14 August 2008

Neglected Rubrics Yet Again

Altar Book, p. XX:

"The psalms are pointed for singing."

How EASY it is to sing the Psalms (or any portions thereof) with Lutheran Service Book! And yet - even in my own parish- one still can meet resistance with singing them. Nothing seems sillier, though, than speaking the words: "O sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord all the earth!"

Hello??? Does nothing strike one as odd with that?

LSB richly provides us with tones. There are 8 single tones (for psalms with odd numbered divisions) and 3 double tones (for psalms with even numbered divisions). It would not take long for a congregation to become familiar with all of them, and thus be comfortable singing the Psalter with a variety of tones. My personal favorites are A, E, G and H, and of the double tones I.


Paul McCain said...

Plus, come on! There is nothing more hideously boring than speaking the Psalms, responsively. Snooze!!!!!

Jim Huffman said...

Another advantage to singing the Psalms is ease of memorization. Psalms sung stick in the mind, and allow us to meditate on them far easier than when simply read.

Paul McCain said...

And don't forget what St. Augustine says, "He who sings, prays twice"

Qui cantat, bis orat.

Rev. James Leistico said...

["devil's" advocate mode on]

"Nothing seems sillier, though, than speaking the words: 'O sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord all the earth!'"
Yet is it silly to speak the words, "The psalms are pointed for singing."? Speaking the quoted psalm could simply be taken as instruction for future use.

"LSB richly provides us with tones."
One pastor's "rich provision" is another pastor's "overwhelming decision" who misses LW's assignment of tones since he is not so musically inclined. (another brother in my area has heard a member call these psalm tones "voodoo chants!" hehehehe)

McCain: "There is nothing more hideously boring than speaking the Psalms, responsively."
First response - LSB 319: "The following translation [of the Athanasian Creed] may be spoken responsively by whole verse."
Second response - from a private email by William Weedon, June 14, 2007, in regards to teaching an old TLH congregation LSB's Matins: "I'd just have the people SPEAK the words of the canticle together for a while. This teaches them a couple things: that we don't always have to sing, even though we like to, and that the WORDS are MORE IMPORTANT than the MUSIC." (emphasis mine)

[DA mode off. grin.]

btw, I do chant the psalms for my own personal devotions - since Weedon gave this musically challenged pastor tips for how to choose which tone to chant for which Psalm

William Weedon said...

Amen, Jim and Paul!


LOL!!! A foolish consistency and all that... Venturing into Priestman's territory, it is a tact you can take with a parish that dislikes singing them, to introduce singing them a little at a time. Maybe Vespers in Advent you sing them, but Vespers in Lent you speak them. But by all means, I think we need to work intentionally on making singing be the default mode of our use of the Psalms.

I will definitely confess that when it comes to LSB tones, there are some that strike me as just notes thrown together and not true tones. Sorry to insult whoever wrote them! I avoid at all costs B & C. They just... are odd. Running and ducking for cover...

Rev. James Leistico said...

I only recently (NB: the word "recently" is rather...ummm... elastic among my parishioners) started chanting my parts of the service of Matins with the introduction of LSB last year at one parish, and this summer at the other (in an almost accidentally priestmanly way, I might add).
I'd like to start chanting my parts for DS3 - but I need to get it into my head what it is supposed to sound like. You wouldn't happen to know any pastors who chant well and record their services, would you?

William Weedon said...


If you search this blog, a couple of our Sunday services are up here with the chanting from DS 3. They should fit the bill.

Rev. Rick Sawyer said...

I avoid at all costs B & C.

No need to duck for cover, but we use tone C when we use DS3. Somewhere I seem to remember that it was suggested that tone be used if the Gloria Patri from DS3 were sung as printed. I haven't checked out tone H to see how it would work. Do you use the Gloria Patri in DS3 or do you omit it? Which tone do you use so as to avoid the awkward key change, or does that matter? I'll have to search for your DS3 file on the blog, but I've got dial up, so . . . :-(

William Weedon said...


We don't use the Introit usually, opting for an Entrance Hymn (I know, I know...), and thus the Gloria Patri doesn't come into play. When we have used the Introits, we pretty much have ignored the option of using the printed Gloria Patri in DS 3 and just sung it on the Psalm tone.

Rev. James Leistico said...

found one:

in the comments section, you said you were going to have to ponder Linda's question:
"When we watch the service after the fact and say the confession of sins, is it you, acting on behalf of God forgiving us?"

I would figure this question would also apply to shut-ins listening to the tape at home. This issue might or might not have some overlap with this one:

Anonymous said...

So, what are these tips for knowing which psalm tone to use? The choice falls under the organist's domain around here. I'm the organist, but I'm not sure what the protocol is, so I've just been winging it.

elephantschild said...

The LSB tones are quite easy to learn. If you want to convince someone of that, I've got a 1910 Anglican "New Cathedral Psalter" in which the pointing of the psalms was arranged in quite interesting and difficult (and beautiful) ways. Photocopy a few of THOSE and pass 'em round. People will beg you for the LSB tones! :)

Off topic: My Dh and I did find some matches between this old Psalter and TLH - but they're pointed differently, although the essential tune is the same. My Dh says the TLH pointing isn't as good musically - although it may be a bit easier to sing!


Anonymous said...

OR!!!! --- perhaps let the cantors do them again!

Rev. James Leistico said...

Anonymous who asked for the tips,

Weedon told me A, D, and F are more jubilant, while E, G, H are more solemn. He recommended using A for Christmas and Epiphany, D for Easter, E for Pentecost through August, F for September through November, G for Advent and H for Lent.

Timothy said...

For what it's worth, here's what we use at Epiphany (at least for now):

Advent - H
Christmas season - A
Epiphany season - A
Pre-lent & Lent - G
Easter through Pentecost - E
Trinity through Trinity 7 - H
Trinity 8-14 - F
Trinity 15-21 - B
Trinity 22-end - C

Tim Landskroener

Anonymous said...

> So, what are these tips for knowing which psalm
> tone to use? The choice falls under the organist's
> domain around here. I'm the organist, but I'm not
> sure what the protocol is, so I've just been winging it.

The CoW has provided some assistance in how to pick psalm tones at:


Rev. Jon Vieker
St. Louis, MO

Chris said...

Are these psalm tones Gregorian in origin or are they of somewhat newer innovation?

Do any of the Lutheran seminaries teach chanting? In Orthodox seminaries, those are REQUIRED courses for priests and deacons in training. Having good musical abilities is an important part of a pastor's responsibilities during the offices and liturgies. Is this because there is too much reliance on an organ?

elephantschild said...

"too much reliance on an organ"

IF ONLY it were so... sigh. :)

Mike Adair said...

My kids and I love using The Brotherhood Prayer Book at night. I'm not at all musically gifted but Pastor Mayes' instructions for chanting the Psalms helped even me. I used to memorize little bits of the Psalms (like fortune cookies) but to know them in context in your heart is a tremendous blessing. Plus, it's great practice for heaven!

Paul McCain said...

Wow, Pastor Mayes is going to be leading the chanting of the Psalms in heaven too?

Would not surprise me!

: )

orthodoxy hunter said...

Tones? Is that what they call it. I want to learn how to do that.