Saturday, November 19, 2011

The RPCNA Psalter: A Review

When I was in my early teens, my family discovered the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (via the magazine).  After a few visits to the congregation in Chesley, Ontario, we began singing from the 1650 Scottish Psalter in family worship.

When I went off to college, and for a few years after graduating, I attended a large nominally-Reformed church with a contemporary worship style.  At first I liked it, but it got old fast.  Many of the praise choruses they sang were loosely derived from the psalms, but singing (or listening to the praise band sing) the line "Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere" a dozen times in a row (or more) is hardly the same thing as singing Psalm 84 (one of my favorites!) in its entirety!

When I found myself single again, and free to choose a new church, I began attending a congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), where they sang the psalms from The Book of Psalms for Singing--and sang them a cappella, and with enthusiasm.  After years of contemporary worship music, I found it immensely refreshing!

However, once I moved to Texas and started singing from the 1650 Scottish Psalter again, I really fell in love with it, and felt as though I'd come full circle back to the best Psalter.  I appreciate the much-closer correlation between the psalms we sing, and the prose psalms.  Also, I really prefer singing from a split-leaf, where you can choose the tune to use with a given psalm, as opposed to being "stuck" with a tune that might happen to be one that you don't know, don't like, or can't sing.

I am very thankful for the RPCNA church and glad that they sing and appreciate the psalms.  And I would far rather sing from the RPCNA psalter than go back to praise choruses!  But I'm also glad that the church I belong to now uses the Scottish Metrical Psalter rather than The Book of Psalms for Singing, or the newer version, The Book of Psalms for Worship.

Some time ago, I came across a good review of the RPCNA's newest psalter, The Book of Psalms for Worship.  Now I'm guessing that few of my readers are connected to the RPCNA in any way, so this review may not be specifically relevant to most of you.  However, you may find it interesting anyway, because it does address a few objections commonly made to the Scottish Psalter, like the use of "outdated" language including the thee's and thou's. 

Book review: The Book of Psalms for Worship

This review was written by Mr. Andrew Meyers, an elder in an independent Reformed church in Virginia.


  1. Wow, Sharon! I had no idea you attended a contemporary service before and found the choruses growing dull. That was my own experience, too, only my headache one was "I could sing of your love forever".

    You are totally right on the "Better is One Day"... the Psalm is far better and deeper!

    Anyway, thank you for the review! I am about to take a peek.

  2. Oh, "I could sing of your love forever" was one of the worst. It really did go on forever.


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