Different ways to "sing" the psalm

Each evening, for vespers, I “sing” the Bonum Est Confiteri, Prasm 92:1-4 as it read in the rubrics, and included in the Coverdale version:

¶ Then shall be sang the following Psalm:

Bonum Est Confiteri.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord: and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most Highest;
To tell of thy loving-kindness early in the morning: and of thy truth in the night-season;
Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the lute: upon a loud instrument, and upon the harp.
For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy works: and I will rejoice in giving praise for the operations of thy hands.

Do I sing it? No. But there a different ways congregations can use this (and other psalms and canticles):

  1. Read in in unison.
  2. Read in by alternating verses or half verses; alternating between a worship leader and congregation, or between halves of the congregation.
  3. Read in unison, but book-ended with a sung antiphon. More often seen in newer hymnals.
  4. Chanted: plainsong or Anglican chant being two options.
  5. A metrical version sung to a psalm tune — “Old 100th” was the tune for an early metrical version of Psalm 100.
  6. A hymn based closely on the psalm.

The Sternhold and Hopkins metrical psalter is the likely choice for option 5, giving us, in common meter:

It is a thing both good and meet
to praise the highest Lord,
And to thy Name, O thou most High,
to sing with one accord:

To shew the kindness of the Lord,
before the day be light,
And to declare his truth abroad,
when it doth draw to night;

On a ten-string’ed instrument,
on lute and harp so sweet,
With all the mirth you can invent
of instruments most meet.

An assortment of hymns evoking Psalm 92 may be found here.

The point: a rubric and a text may be used in more than the literal way.

The New Testament and Psalter is in

I wrote about a New Testament with psalter I ordered; it arrived last Wednesday.

It could be worse. I can imagine furtive looks about the “faith sharing” helps, and I might agree with you. But they’re moderate evangelical and are easy enough to ignore, in part because they assume a particular insider’s attitude to scripture and the Christian faith. Nothing offensive (if you accept that Christianity is an evangelizing religion) but I may use those pages to paste my prayers.

The bigger problem is the combination of a soft (non-leather) cover and thin India paper, typical for Bibles. The binding slumps in my day bag, and the thin corners dog-ear.

The translation in NRSV, which is a decently middle-of-the-road. The type is slightly larger and more legible than I feared, so that’s good and the price was good. It weighs 165 grams — less than 6 ounces — and fits easily in the hand.

A modest endorsement.

Bleg: a portable NT and psalter

Dear readers: I’m looking for a New Testament and Psalter. A very specific kind, for daily prayer, and I want to know if you’ve seen what I want. This is a bleg: a blog beg.

It ought to be:

  1. Compact, say smaller than 4×6 inches
  2. Hard-bound to survive a book bag, and not leather bound (as I’m a vegetarian)
  3. Ideally a modern but literary translation
  4. Loosely bound a plus, so I can paste in prayers in the covers

I suppose a Bible on my phone would work, but that’s a depressing, fiddly thought. Second best so far is a little KJV Gideon New Testament and Psalter, but they’re more portable than useful.

Any ideas? Any suggestion much appreciated.

A project out of General Assembly (for lectionary preachers)

It was a good General Assembly, but for (me, anyway) the soft relationships defy programming. Trust and relationship building, arts of the ministry, stories that shape identity. Evidence about strength and weakness, and a willingness to address both. There was a spirit, and I don’t want to crush it with explanation. It was so good that I didn’t finish this thought on-site!

So, what’s the takeaway? Unclear. Perhaps we can experiment by spinning up some projects. Experimentation is also in the air. I mentioned Faithify for those that need funding, but sometimes there’s an itch that needs scratching at no cost than the doing.

I was lunching with a couple of colleagues in Christian churches who preach from the Revised Common Lectionary. We identified a need to share notes: ideas, themes, resources. Something simple.

Is this something you could use? Be interested in participating in? If so, please say so in the comments.

So, why readings?

A liturgical thought for Unitarian Universalists and, by extension, not a small number of Christians.

Why do we have long readings — often two, sometimes three — in our services?

  • Almost everone in worship is literate; that is, worshippers can read long passages for themselves.
  • These books are in print, Bibles or otherwise. The Mary Jones days are behind us.
  • Too often, they have no other purpose than to source a sermon. Why not embed the important parts — that will like be repeated anyway — in the sermon?
  • A long reading, not to mention plural readings, are hard to remember and are rarely a delight, even when declamed well, which is rare. And in many Unitarian Universalist congregations they function as a spoken anthem, or a pre-sermon.

Perhaps that’s a side effect — both on the Unitarian and Universalist side — of publishing sermons and commending them to be read in mission churches where a preacher could not go, or go regularly. (Unitarians tended towards pamphlets; Universalists, in newspapers.) On the other hand, Protestant responses to the Liturgical Movement — to which Unitarian Universalists are not immune; stoles, anyone? — have tended towards longer and more readings, a tendency I think of as the cod liver oil approach.  (Get as much down their throats as they can bear.)

So it may shock some of you — I use the Revised Common Lectionary for preaching texts after all — but I’m about ready to suggest we dispense with the reading of the lessons, unless some reason can be found to maintain them where they are.

Reading list update, January 12

I’ve finished two more books — not on my list — since I last checked in. Relatively shorter and less difficult than what (I think) appeals to me, so I read them without discouragement!

  1. William L. Barclay. The Lord’s Supper. (2001, of 1965 ed.)
    Brief review of the history and meaning of the sacrament, useful (if gently dated) for ecumenically-minded mainline Protestant churches.
  2. Anya von Bremzen. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. (2013)
    Fascinating family memoir usung food to unpack 20th and 21st century Soviet and Russian history.

Hungarian Unitarians promoting free and open source software

The website of Hungarian Unitarian church, in Hungary and Transylvanian Romania, points out three free and open source software projects — thank you, Google Translate! I use all three, and recommend them, too. Links to the English software sites follow:

New page: "Lectionary and Propers index"

For more than a year, I’ve been typing out the appointed prayers (proper collects) and biblical lessons from two sources — Universalist and “Free Church” — which map the historic Western lectionary. It’s not complete, but I’ve transcribed enough to make it worth it worth indexing them. Follow this link. Like the main project, it will be a work in process.

Preparation for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

Free Church Book of Common Prayer (1929)

Second Sunday after Trinity or Third Sunday after Pentecost.

O Lord, who never failest to help and govern them whom thou dost bring up in thy stedfast fear and love; keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle: 1 John iii. 13-18.
Gospel: Luke xiv. 16-24.
A book of prayer for the church and the home (Universalist, 1866)

Third Sunday after Whit-Sunday

O Almighty and most merciful Father, in thy goodness regard our prayers, and free our hearts from the disturbance of all perverse and evil thoughts, that we may become a fit abode for thy Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Gospel, St. Luke xiv. 16.
Epistle, St. John iii. 13.