Of the 23 years of Christian radio programming I did, one of the favorite programs that sticks out in my mind was the interview I conducted with one of the editors of the Trinity Psalter, a book of metrical Psalms with accompanying CD’s by the Scottish Festival Choir.
The history of Psalm singing obviously goes thousands of years back in history, but Psalm singing was also a significant part of Christian worship until the 20th century did its damage. The singing of metrical Psalms has been an historic part of Reformed worship, while Lutheran worship tends to use Psalm chant in the liturgy. Whatever the musical settings, Psalm singing incorporates the inspired Word of God into public worship.
Younger generations are often clueless about hymn singing, many believing that gospel songs are actually hymns, and even those are fading in favor of contemporary choruses, or in the worst cases, secular rock songs. (I’m not kidding about that.) But if hymns are now largely unknown to large swathes of the Protestant world, Psalm singing is even less familiar. Old Hundredth, as it was called, used to be a staple in Christian worship, shortened to what some call the Doxology, and then largely forgotten.
I came across this gorgeous rendition of Old Hundredth (the metrical form of Psalm 100.) The music may be at Westminster Abbey in this particular clip, but as one musician put it at a Psalm workshop I attended, metrical Psalms can be sung with a simple piano or guitar, and Old Hundredth certainly used to be sung out in humble little churches as well as big churches all over the West.
Here are the words from the Psalter, sung by those whose trust is in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Psalm is ended, as always, with a metrical form of the ancient Greek words of the Gloria Patri.
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.
The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.
O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.
For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.
To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.