Dear Colleyville Family,
Martin Luther, in his preface to the newly translated German Psalter in 1545, wrote this: “In my opinion, any man who will but make a trial in earnest of the Psalter will very soon bid the other pious prayers adieu, and say, ‘Ah, they have not the sap, the strength, the heart, the fire, that I find in the Psalter; they are too cold, too hard, for my taste!'”
I began making my own earnest trial in praying the psalms eight years ago, and I have to say that I am in complete agreement with this wise pastor’s words. My hope is that we as a congregation will continue to grow together in our appreciation and use of the these ancient prayers given to us by the Spirit to pray in union with Jesus himself.
As a follow up to my sermon this past Sunday, I wanted to send a pastoral letter to you sharing some of the most helpful resources I have found on the psalms. This is a long list, but I want to share with you some of the wealth I have discovered in my own studies in the hope that you will find some of these resources helpful in your own “earnest trial” in praying the psalms.
It can be helpful to have the psalms bound in one book in order to more easily pray them. I highly recommend this ESV leather bound version.
As you can see from the quote above, Martin Luther was an ardent proponent of the psalms. Reading the Psalms with Luther is a wonderful resource that contains the text of each psalm, along with commentary by Luther.
Our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have recently produced a new Psalter Hymnal that is a wonderful resource for singing the psalms. I highly recommend it.
I will be linking to a number of albums below. I’m linking to them on Amazon, but all of the works below should be available on your streaming service of choice.
One of the most ancient and beautiful ways to sing the Psalms is by chanting them. My favorite rendition of Psalm chanting is performed by a choral group called Gloriae Dei Cantores. I would recommend these albums in particular:
For pure beauty, the choral psalm settings of Handel’s Chandos Anthems have perhaps never been surpassed. I never get tired of listening to these beautiful works. An inexpensive version is available in two volumes here and here.
There are also some wonderful contemporary renditions of psalms being produced today. Some of my favorites are produced by a group called Corner Room. They have produced two albums so far:
The best “kid-friendly” psalms set to music are done by Jamie Soles, who has been singing the psalms for years. Here are some of his albums:
You can stream all Jamie’s albums on YouTube for free here.
Some of my favorite contemporary psalm renditions are sung by a group called the Psalm Project Africa. The joy and freedom these African men, women and children have in singing the psalms is amazing, and their work is a wonderful reminder that the psalms are a gift to the global church. They have produced three albums so far, all of which you can find here.
All the Psalm Project Africa albums are available to stream for free on YouTubehere.
Introductions to the Psalms – Books
There are many books that give good introductions to the value of the psalms. Here are my three favorite introductions to the Psalms that also include some thoughts on praying them (I’ll have copies of each of these works available for you to look at on Sunday):
Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer
N. T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential
Introductions to the Psalms – Classic Essays
There are three classic introductory essays written on the Psalms that I would highly recommend. These are three of the greatest theologians in church history writing on one of the richest parts of the Scriptures (each of these links will take you to a free pdf):
Martin Luther, Preface to the Psalter
John Calvin, Preface to the Psalms
Commentaries on the Psalms
If you’d like to do some deeper study on the psalms, here are three commentaries I would point you towards:
Derek Kidner, Commentary on the Psalms Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 – Kidner writes from a broadly Protestant perspective, and has a high view of scripture. His commentary on the psalms is still one of the finest written in the modern period, and is easily accessible.
Patrick Reardon, Christ in the Psalms – Reardon writes from an Orthodox perspective, and so should be read with discernment. However, his Christological readings of the psalms are often deeply insightful and well worth considering.
John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms – Calvin is one of the most prolific expositors on the psalms, and his work is detailed, rich, and stands the test of time.
My prayer is that these resources will be valuable to you as you seek to make the psalms your own! If you’d like to talk more with me about the psalms, prayer, or anything else, don’t hesitate to reach out to set up a time to meet.