Songbook Committees complete provisional Psalm proposal

Rev. Alan Strange at the URCNA Synod 2012, which accepted the OPC's invitation to cooperate in producing a new songbook
Rev. Alan Strange at the URCNA Synod 2012, which accepted the OPC’s invitation to cooperate in producing a new songbook

During a March 5-6 meeting at Faith URC in West Olive, MI, the URCNA and OPC songbook committees were able to complete a provisional Psalm Proposal. The Proposal includes at least one full metrical version of all 150 psalms with the exception of Psalm 119, which appears in 22 separate selections corresponding to each section of the lengthy acrostic psalm.

Many psalms are additionally represented in “B” or “C” complete metrical versions, chosen for their familiarity and liturgical applicability. A recent press release reiterates that both committees’ mandated priority is to choose complete Psalm texts that are “faithful to the words of Scripture and set to singable, appropriate, and beautiful music.”

In addition to the approximately 235 complete metrical psalms, the Proposal includes about 40 partial or paraphrase psalm songs, primarily from the blue Psalter Hymnal.

Many selections from the Psalter Hymnal have been retained in one form or another; some with no changes, some with updated wording (such as “you” for “thee”), and some with more complete or accurate scriptural text. In some cases, familiar tunes are being used with different psalms. Other psalms have new metrical texts and tunes.

The URNCA Committee reports, “By retaining many well-known tunes as well as adding some excellent new ones, we hope that our churches will be able to robustly sing all of the Psalms in the collection.”

The committees plan to release a digital version of the Psalm Proposal following the OPC General Assembly (GA) in early June. An online system will allow churches from both the OPC and URCNA to submit feedback. After taking this feedback into consideration, the committees hope to recommend a Psalm Proposal to both the OPC GA and the URCNA Synod in 2014.

After two years of focusing on psalms, the committees intend to shift focus to the hymns this summer. They aim to release an updated joint Hymn Proposal in late 2014 or early 2015 with a goal of recommending it to GA and Synod in 2016. The hope is to begin publication of the entire songbook in the fall of 2016.

Having served as Chair of the URCNA Committee for four years, Rev. Rand Lankheet now serves as Vice-Chair and Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen has assumed the position of Chair. Other URCNA Committee members are: Mrs. Angeline Vanderboom (Secretary and member-at-large), Mr. David Buursma (Classis Central US), Dr. Scott Finch (Classis Western Canada), Rev. Christopher Folkerts (Classis Pacific Northwest), Mrs. Denise Marcusse (Classis Michigan), Mr. Joel Pearce (Classis Eastern US), and Rev. Harry Zekveld (Classis Ontario East).

The OPC’s Psalter Hymnal Special Committee, which functions under the denomination’s Education Committee, consists of Rev. Alan Strange (Chair), Rev. Danny Olinger, Dr. Darryl Hart, and Rev. Stephen Pribble.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 12 of the April 10, 2013, issue of Christian Renewal.

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