10 January 2015

Concordia Psalter

I simply cannot say enough positive about this little gem. The Psalms, of course, are THE hymnbook of the Church. Now, in a single volume (that Pr. Kalvin Waetzig would call positively packy), you can have them easily at hand. But why a special edition of the Psalter?

* The wording matches the ESV version that was used in Lutheran Service Book.
* Suggested Psalm tones are PRINTED before each Psalm (first a tone from LSB, second a newer tone but following the same three syllable pattern) and these tones "match" the thought of the words of the Psalm. Twenty-two tones are provided total, and some of the new ones are particularly fine (I think my favorite thus far is tone 8 (by Dr. Kosche).
* Longish Psalms are divided into parts for easier praying.
* Psalm prayers follow each Psalm (or part) that focus on a Christological understanding of what has just been prayed.
* Three charts for praying the Psalms are included in the front of the volume covering the Psalter either in a month or in a two-week period. 
* Two-part tones are not neglected (the book supplies six of them total), and no guessing if the two-part will come out even on a Psalm anymore: they are printed only on Psalms they actually work on!

I can see this book finding several uses among us:

* in the pews, so that the congregation has the entire Psalter before it for any of the liturgies.
* in the school, so that the children of the Church learn to sing the entirety of the Psalter.
* in the home, for daily prayers (Cindi and I used ours this morning WITH the Treasury).
* in the choir, so that the Choir can lead the Psalm singing in the Daily Offices.
* in retreats and other settings where fuller use of the Daily Office cycle commends itself.

I think mine will be a constant companion. Kudos, CPH! Yet another homerun.

13 comments:

Rev. Alan Kornacki, Jr. said...

Is this why the entire Psalter isn't printed in LSB? *wink*

Kirk Skeptic said...

As a newbie I can't help but ask why it's ok for the LSB to contain so many non-Lutheran hymns while ignoring the nearly 500 years of Reformed metrical psalomdy? Am I missing something?

Unknown said...

The Dunstan Plainsong Psalter, I feel, is superior. First of all the "tones"used in the LSB are just awful, pitifully awful. If anyone wants to chant the psalms in English using better music, I enthusiastically recommend the above.--Chris

William Weedon said...

Alan,

It was one of the non-negotiables at the start of the LSB project! HA!

Kirk,

The quality of many of the Psalm paraphrases was thought wanting. We do feature some of Luther's, of course. Lutherans also had this tradition, though, in things like the Becker Psalter of Sch├╝tz. I wish we had more of that in English!

Chris,

Oh, I completely disagree. I have the St. Dunstan. If you want a plainchant English psalter, go with Brotherhood Prayer Book. But to enable the nonmusical person to master Psalm singing, you'll not do better than the Concordia Psalter. And the new tones really do add quite a bit.



Unknown said...

Pr. Weedon,

The question then becomes do you want the congregation to be able to sing good music? If the answer is yes, then stay away from the artificial "tones" of the LSB. Train people in plainsong. The rewards are myriad.

It's like teaching someone the psalter to Louie, Louie (LSB) versus
teaching it to them to While My Guitar Gently Weeps. --Chris

William Weedon said...

Chris,

The Psalm tones ARE good music. They can be made even better by using bells or choir singing them in parts back and forth with the congregation. And the congregation needs music that is essentially simpler than what the choir performs. The choir, of course, may do much more complex music including the lovely Gregorian chants that we have in Brotherhood Prayer Book.

Unknown said...

So people are too stupid or too unable to execute the traditional music of the church? Teach them and they will learn.

William Weedon said...

Chris,

That's nonsense. No one said that. BUT it is unrealistic to expect a congregation to execute music that the monks developed and practiced DAILY in their offices. And, like it or not, the LSB tones are the Church's music too! I know, I know. You don't see it that way. But they are.

Unknown said...

So, maybe then extra practice is needed. Bach had to work tirelessly to get his choirs at the five churches in Leipzig up to snuff for services on every Sunday and feast day and, from his own diaries, he realized he didn't have necessarily the best talent.

Substituting poor music (they are; take it from a music minor specializing in Renaissance/early Baroque theory and composition) for good music just because everyone can do it is one of the worst excuses.

Do you only preach for 3 minutes because that is the time span that most people can pay attention? Do you cut out parts of the Liturgy so that it clocks in at an hour or just under? I'm sure you don't. So, why do this? It makes no sense.

Rev. Alan Kornacki, Jr. said...

I wonder at the education of those who assembled these Psalm tones. I dare say they had their own passing acquaintance with Renaissance/early Baroque theory and composition. Surely they didn't let first year high school music theory students compose them. Perhaps their education might even come close to matching yours. May we all be so fortunate someday.

All snarkiness aside...

As a pastor with a less prodigious musical background than others might boast, let me say that I do work toward educating my people, both theologically and musically. But I don't start them off with a Bach Passion, any more than I would begin by teaching new catechumens obscure points of doctrine.

And when I get my members for, at best, three hours a week--and most of that time is spent in Gottesdienst and catechesis, I don't know that we'd ever get to Gregorian tones, especially when they can barely sing the Gloria in Excelsis some Sundays. If they grow to the point that they can stomach meat, great. Until then, I'm happy they have the milk of simple and (in the opinion of this avid music appreciator with a collegiate choral background) lovely LSB Psalm tones.

Anonymous said...

Is this meant to replace 'Praying the Psalms with Luther'? What wealth we have in a publishing house that produces two Psalters, yet I am unclear on their difference before I consider purchasing one and the reason for the two. Are the Psalm prayers different between the volumes? -Ryan

Pastor Peters said...

Where is the accompaniment for the new tones so that we can employ the Psalter for corporate use where the singing ability is less?

JForster said...

I just ordered it. I love singing the Psalms and I think the ESV is a good strong translation.

I want to share a project you guys might be interested in: I working with a couple other people to finish putting Schutz's Becker Psalter into English. We are trying to raise some money to pay some good poets to finish the project. We would appreciate it if you could share this project with anyone that might be interested and if you could push a few dollars our way.
Here is the project on Patreon.com:
https://www.patreon.com/user?u=772620&ty=h&u=772620