Singing Psalms with Little Saints

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,
Teaching and admonishing one another
In psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs,
Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Colossians 3:16
Long before I became a mother, I yearned to have children who sang. During my own years of home education in a Reformed Christian family, we grew our love of hymns into a love of Psalms—a love of melody into a love of harmony—a love of corporate singing on Sundays into a love of singing at home as a family all week long. I loved almost nothing more than monthly Psalm sings with our church family—and to this day, there is almost nothing which fills me with more delight than filling my home with the echoes of boisterous harmony. This love, instilled during my own childhood, was something I longed to continue cultivating as I moved on to college academics and beyond.

To read the rest of this article,
written by me for my friend
Amy Sloan to share,
head over to HumilityAndDoxology.com

Sacred psalmody, December

We worked hard on Psalm 70 all November, and while my kids had it perfected more quickly than I did, we all got there eventually. I would still love to learn the center section in four part harmony. Considering the month we had, I’m pretty pleased that the kids could absolutely hold their own on soprano, even when I broke into confident alto for the polyphonic section.

Now we have embarked into December, and we began learning Psalm 130. Again, it is a musical version of the actual NKJV text, so we are committing an entire Psalm to memory this month. It is a worthy endeavor and beautiful practice! I’m not entirely certain that the kids will fall in love with it because they tend to prefer major keys over minor, and complicated harmonies where they can each master their own part rather than needing to excel in unison and pitch-matching.

I think the meditations, discussion, and prayers this Psalm inspires will be a glorious gathering of blessing, and memorizing it through song will make it joyfully attainable.

Sacred Psalmody 2020

God is so kind to require our praise in song, and then to mercifully act in His kindness to make it an absolutely delightful practice! What a good Father. I realize that I may have a little edge on this perspective, because I was raised singing Scripture and other spiritual songs basically from infancy. Some of my dearest, earliest memories are from singing with my father at bedtime, accompanied by his strummed guitar. He put verses to music to help me hide the Word in my heart from my youngest days. I truly believe this is one of the most effective ways my parents walked me into the Christian life of faith, and effectively engaged my heart and mind in the things of the Lord while He graciously granted me the gift of never knowing a time without calling on His name.

I became a pianist shortly after my early introduction to being a singer, and was a church accompanist by the time I was a teenager. I have accompanied in CREC, Anglican, and PCA churches. When I attended Whitworth University, I wanted to get my Bachelor’s in accompaniment but they didn’t have that focus at the time. Although I was bummed, I did get a general music BA with an emphasis on church music, and a minor in theology, using voice as my instrument and choir as my main focus. There was nothing like it – I was only there for two years, having spent three years prior at a lovely community college – and I fondly look at that time at Whitworth as a season of foundational both musical and spiritual growth for me.

Since becoming a homeschooling mama, I have been essentially grooming and growing my own little chorale. When God took me through the years of multiple miscarriages, our wandering in the wilderness of struggling to grow our family, one of my big heartbreaks was the idea that I would not have children filling my home with music. Oh! how the Lord laughs, and how I laugh with Him! for my Lord has fulfilled that desire now to overflowing! It brings tears to my eyes. (And more than an occasional headache or need for ear plugs.) Honestly though, there is almost nothing that brings more joy to my heart than hearing the voices of my children united in the joyful noise of praising the King.

In addition to singing every day in our Morning Time routine here at home, I have also had the blessing of teaching Singing School to three different local Christian homeschooling co ops. I love to bring others along with us in our journey of singing praise to God, including (especially!) the Psalms.

I do not subscribe to the idea of sole psalmody in worship as do some good brothers and sisters in Christ, but I do deeply believe we ought to sing Psalms. We ought to know them and love them and work hard to deepen our knowledge of their wisdom and theology and singability.

My children and I have the goal to learn at least one sung/chanted version of each of the 150 Psalms before our home education days together are ended. My oldest child is already in seventh grade, so I have some motivation to quicken the pace. If we were to memorize one Psalm a month, it would take over twelve years to accomplish that goal. So it is more than a little lofty. Praise the Lord, I still have a toddler, and have many years for growing and singing and educating left ahead of me.

Please allow me now to share with you the Psalms we chose to memorize for the year 2020.

January ~ Psalm 117 ~ text: KJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
February ~ Psalm 121 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
March ~ Psalm 23 ~ text: Henry W. Baker; music: Old Irish melody, St. Columba; source: Cantus Christi
April ~ Psalm 34 ~ text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: John Wainwright, Yorkshire; source: Cantus Christi
May ~ Psalm 122 ~ text: Tate & Brady; music: William Tans, Colchester; source: Cantus Christi
June ~ Psalm 98 ~ text: text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: Thomas Jarman, Desert; source: Cantus Christi
July ~ Psalm 148 ~ text: The Book of Psalms for Singing; music: Horatio Palmer, St. Catherine’s; source: Cantus Christi
August ~ Psalm 63 ~ text: Psalter of 1912; music: Thomas Tallis, Third Mode Melody; source: Cantus Christi
September ~ Psalm 111 ~ text: NKJV; music: Gustav Holst, David R. Erb; source: Cantica Sanctorum
October ~ Psalm 103 ~ text: Johann Gramann, Catherine Winkworth; music: Johann Kugelmann, Heinrich Schutz; source: Cantus Christi
November ~ Psalm 70 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantus Christi
December ~ Psalm 130 ~ text: NKJV; music: David R. Erb; source: Cantus Christi