New App To Help You And Your Congregation Sing Psalms

The most ancient Christian practice of worship was to sing the Psalms. Our Lord sang the Psalms of ascent with his disciples (Matt 26:30). The Apostles sang Psalms (1 Cor 14:26, “ἕκαστος ψαλμὸν ἔχει“). The early Christian church sang Psalms in public worship until they were displaced by Gregorian chants in the 7th century. Even as extra-canonical songs began to gain ground from the 4th and 5th centuries, the monasteries preserved Psalmody for centuries and the Psalms again became the songbook of the Reformed church in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the modern period, of course, the Psalms were again marginalized in favor non-canonical songs. The rising generations have little acquaintance with the Psalter and many people today are entirely unfamiliar with the biblical and historic Christian practice of singing God’s holy Word in public worship.

So it is very exciting to learn from my friend and colleague, the Rev. Tommy Myrick that there is now a free (iOS) app which re-prints the 1650 Split-Leaf Psalter. In its own time the split-leaf Psalter was an amazing piece of technology. It is called a “split-leaf” psalter because the pages are split horizontally with the stanzas of the Psalm on the top and the tunes on the bottom thus allowing the congregation to sing the Psalms to different tunes. All that must match is the meter. So, if a congregation has a favorite tune or sings another tune more easily, then a psalm may be sung with that one or another.

Now, with this app by Romesh Prakashpalan, we can do the same thing electronically that we used to with the print version. There are advantages with the app. The app has midi files to play the tunes of the various tunes so one need not even read music to pick a psalm tune.

Note: that there are Android and Kindle versions of the app. See the links below in the combox.

14 comments

  1. Are the psalm superscriptions in the Greek translation of the Psalms identical to, ie., a translation, of those in the Massoretic text?

    A question: If God is pleased, as He clearly is, to bless the fallible human written teaching, why then would He be unwilling to also bless fallible human song-writing?
    And if God is pleased, as He clearly is, to bless fallible human speaking, why then would He be unwilling to also bless fallible human singing?

    • Allan,

      Yes, I think the superscriptions in the LXX generally follow the MT. The numbering of the Psalms changes, however, in the 1st or 2nd book of the Psalter, so that affects the relationship.

      The point is that the NT church and the NT authors used Greek translations of the NT, which translations are reflected in the LXX. A translation of Holy Scripture is not exactly equivalent to a “fallible human composition.” I.e., an uninspired song is not the same thing as a translation of Scripture. That translation, even though as a translation is uninspired or even though the translators were uninspired as they translated, insofar as it is faithful to the original text is properly regarded as God’s inspired Word.

      The question is not what God is pleased to bless but what he has ordained for public worship? The question is how to best explain the formula that Paul used? We know the most likely source of the formula, “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” These are drawn from the headers in the LXX. These are not random categories nor are they a justification to sing some canonical songs, some 19th-century hymns, and some contemporary Scripture choruses (as I have seen and heard some arguing).

  2. Thank you for sharing this app. Our ladies Bible Study is using Dr. Godfrey’s book Learning To Love the Psalms and the dvd’s From Ligonier. This is another great adjunct. Also wonderful for personal devotion time and with meals.

  3. Years ago, many congregations in New Zealand sang many of the psalms, usually word-for-word from the King James, simply because we loved the Word of God, and they were very popular. I often recall these to mind and they are still a blessing.
    Perhaps through the desire of the younger ones coming along to have music which emulated the seemingly ever more sophisticated ‘Christian’ artist and ‘contemporary’ music (money-making!) industry, these fell into disuse. Leaders seeking to popularly increase their church size were perhaps just as responsible.

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