2 Oct 2016

Nat Turner sings the Psalms

The October 2016 issue of National Geographic carries a fascinating article, "I, Too, Am America," about the African American experience in the United States, with this description: "A dazzling new museum in the nation's capital and its eclectic collection show the personal side of the suffering, perseverance, and triumphs of African Americans." Among the artefacts housed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the personal Bible of Nat Turner, who led a famous slave revolt in 1831.


The image above appears on p. 124 of the article. A careful examination of the page indicates that Turner's Bible contained a metrical psalter, the Scottish Psalter of 1650, in fact. In the right hand column we read Psalm 121:

I to the hills will lift mine eyes,
from whence doth come mine aid.
2 My safety cometh from the Lord,
who heav'n and earth hath made.

3 Thy foot he'll not let slide, nor will
he slumber that thee keeps.
4 Behold, he that keeps Israel,
he slumbers not, nor sleeps.

5 The Lord thee keeps, the Lord thy shade
on thy right hand doth stay:
6 The moon by night thee shall not smite,
nor yet the sun by day.

7 The Lord shall keep thy soul; he shall
preserve thee from all ill.
8 Henceforth thy going out and in
God keep for ever will.

The author of the article makes no mention of this, but it prompts me to wonder whether the old black American churches might once have sung the Psalms according to the well-known Scottish versifications. Singing the Psalms would be a natural for a community that suffered so much during the centuries of slavery and after. More research is obviously needed to answer this question.

29 Sep 2016

Ali Ufki's Turkish Psalter: Psalm 2

As a young man, the Polish Reformed Christian Wojciech Bobowski (1610-1675) was abducted by the Tatars and sold to the Ottoman Sultan, whom he served as court translator, treasurer and composer. Taking on the name Ali Ufki, he translated the first fourteen of the Genevan Psalms into Turkish. Here is a performance of his version of the second Psalm:

14 Jul 2016

O Ofício Diário

To observe the recent feast day of St. Benedict of Nursia, First Things reposted this article of mine on its facebook page: The Daily Office. That same day a Portuguese translation was posted at Lecionário: O Ofício Diário. I ask again:

E se todos os cristãos vivessem em comunidades onde a oração da manhã, da tarde e da noite fossem feitas em uma base diária? Muçulmanos comuns oram cinco vezes por dia. Parece que os antigos israelitas oravam em qualquer lugar de três a sete vezes por dia (Daniel 6:10; Salmos 119: 164; cf., Atos 10: 9). Como isso mudaria a nossa relação comunal com Deus? Como isso poderia alterar a maneira como vivemos nossas vidas juntos? Suspeita-se que, pela graça de Deus, a adoção geral do princípio beneditino de ora et labora poderia mudar a história. Oro a Deus que assim seja.
What if all Christians lived in communities where morning, evening and night prayer were prayed on a daily basis? Ordinary Muslims pray five times a day. The ancient Israelites appear to have prayed anywhere from three to seven times daily (Daniel 6:10; Psalm 119:164; cf., Acts 10:9). How would this change our communal relationship with God? How would it alter the way we live our lives together? One suspects that, by God’s grace, the general adoption of the Benedictine principle of ora et labora could change history. Pray God it be so.

9 Jul 2016

Os Salmos e a Primeira Guerra Mundial

One of my articles from two years ago has been published in Portuguese for primarily Brazilian readers: Os Salmos e a Primeira Guerra Mundial. Here is the original: One Hundred Years Later: The Psalms and the First World War.

23 Jun 2016

Psalm 9: Psałterz Poznański

Here is another entry in the Psałterz Poznański, which was just posted today: Psalm 9, set to the proper Genevan melody. A very nice arrangement.

19 Jun 2016

The Rev. Uri Brito gives us 10 Reason to Sing the Psalms. Reasons number six and ten:

Sixth, we should sing the Psalms because they re-shape us; they re-orient our attention. We are a people constantly being sanctified by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit has specifically inspired 150 psalms for our sanctification. How should we pray? How should we ask? How should we lament? The Psalms helps us to answer these questions, and thus shape us more and more after the image of Christ. . . .

Tenth, you should sing the Psalms because the world needs them. The world does not need a weak Gospel. She sees plenty of it already. She needs to hear a Gospel of a God who delights in praise, who will not allow evil to go unpunished, and who prepares a table for us.

26 Apr 2016

Bono and Eugene Peterson on the Psalms

Eugene Peterson is well-known for his paraphrase, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, which was published in stages between 1993 and 2002. Bono is an Irish musician and lead singer of the band U2. Peterson and Bono have recently begun a collaboration on the Psalms. What will come of this we do not yet know, but here is a tantalizing preview:


19 Apr 2016

Recovering the Psalms at the Reformation

Take a look at Timothy George's post from three days ago: Reading the Psalms with the Reformers. An excerpt: "The Reformation of the sixteenth century can be understood in various ways, but it was in essence a biblical revolution, at the heart of which were the Psalms." The subject of George's post is the first volume of Reformation Commentary on Scripture, compiled and edited by Dutch scholar Herman J. Selderhuis. This is a compendium of commentary on the Psalms by well-known Reformation-era Christians. The second volume is forthcoming.

George is the general editor of InterVarsity Press's multi-volume series Reformation Commentary on Scripture of which this volume is part.

23 Feb 2016

Psałterz Poznański: Psalm 27

The Psałterz Poznański project continues with this performance of Psalm 27 set to the Genevan tune:

14 Jan 2016

Dr. Bence Vas on the Genevan Psalter

This looks like a fascinating Open University lecture on the Genevan Psalms by Dr. Bence Vas. If only I could understand Hungarian! Any reader of this blog who knows the language is more than welcome to give us a summary of what he's saying in the comments section below.