5 Jun 2009

A not so joyful noise

So it seems that The Book of Psalms for Worship is ready. The boys seem excited about it - and rightly so. The new psalter sounds really exciting. I am delighted to learn that archaic language has finally been removed, and that it will be easier for my tired old eyes to read. I like its fancy blue and silver size. I like the fact that there are more tunes. There is only one problem then - me.

The boys tell me that I can get an extra-special deal if I order my new psalter today, but the savings are going to go nowhere near covering the years of counselling I'm going to need with the introduction of this new version. Goodness - I'm still recovering from the phasing out of the split paged Scottish metrical psalm book, and that was some time around 1973!!

Back then, my beloved Scottish psalter was replaced by the 1950 blue psalter. They came second hand from our sister churches in the US. Somewhat more willing to embrace change than we Aussies, our American brothers and sisters had given up their books to the Colonies and were using the newly introduced The Book of Psalms for Singing.

The words were different in the new Blue Book. Some of my favourite psalm tunes weren't even there. Take for example 'The Covenanter's Benediction', Psalm 72:17-19 sung to Effingham. It was gone. Kaputsy. Worse, the words of all the psalms that I'd learned at my grandmother's knee (she offered a dollar for each correct one - quite an incentive, it appears) were now wrong - only slightly so, mind you, so while the words said one thing, most of the congregation still sang the other...much to my relief.

Sometime in the early 80's we finally caught up with the Yanks (Did you know we call all Americans that, regardless of where you live in the country? Most inappropriate, sorry.) Anyhow, we caught up with America and moved to The Book of Psalms for Singing. ..the one that had been introduced back in 1973. It was maroon.

I didn't like it either. By this time I'd spent most of my teen years - the formative years - singing from the Blue Book. Perversely, I still sang the Scottish metrical words to the psalms I'd learned by heart as a kid, so that was no longer traumatising me, and I'd actually come to like some of the new selections.
The Lord will light my candle so,
that it shall shine full bright;
The Lord my God will also make
my darkness to be light.’

Psalm 18:28

It was gone in the new maroon book. (Why do they keep doing that to me?) More archaic language had been removed, and I could no longer sing the metrical words to the same tunes, they just didn't fit. Besides, the congregation had grown up with the Blue words and didn't know my old fashioned version any more. Well, the oldies did...but strangely there were less and less of them...

There were new tunes in the new book too. Sometimes they even had us sing Psalm 23 to Resignation instead of Crimmond! Nigh on sacrilege!

Eventually, of course, it was the new tunes that won me over. Who could be angry for long at a book that brought such delights as this one:

(One day I'm going to go to an RP International Conference...)

Besides, the words more clearly reflected the words of Scripture. I approved of that too. More of the thees and thous were gone, and both God and man were referred to as 'you'. Good, I reckoned.

I guess my final vote of confidence in this newfangled 1973 maroon book was when I decided to allow Jemimah to memorise this version of the psalms. In time, I've relearned most of my favourites too, although I must admit adding the odd 'eth' to the end of some words.

So now a new psalter is here. It's blue, not maroon. I like maroon. I'm familiar with maroon. I don't want to relearn new words. And I won't, so there. I'll be a child if I want to. Who says mums have to be mature and a good influence on their children? Not me!

You know, when I think about it, perhaps there's no need for a hissy fit just yet - which is good, because I'm actually in quite a good mood today, if you hadn't noticed - I've been on holidays, you know...

As I was saying, maybe I shouldn't worry. After all, we got the 1950 Blue book in 1975; the 1973 book in the mid 80's. At this rate we won't get the new 2009 book until...ooh...at least 2020 - if then. By then I'll be old and I'll be allowed to be crotchety and alarmed by change. I may even be wearing purple.

In fact, I think I will take advantage of this great offer. I wonder if the free postage applies to overseas orders? If not, at least I've saved money on the counselling - and maybe 'The Covenanter's Benedication' will be back. You never know.

Hmmm, the way I'm feeling, I could get as excited as the boys. Just give me a few years first.


  1. I have listened to that beautiful Psalm singing a number of times. Loved it but can't understand nary a word since I'm used to the Scottish Metrical version! Just the sound of the saints' voices raised is enough to make one yearn for heaven!
    If you click on the pic on the top of my sidebar you'll go to a site which has 72:17-19 to Effingham!

  2. Ruby! I think you might be more fundamental than we are!! Is it possible?

    Imagine The Covenanter's Benediction sitting there on your blog the whole time. Thanks for the link.

  3. Well....yep I'd say it is possible!
    We are not looking at updating our psalm tunes any decade soon :o)

    We had a mum and daughter from Canada visit a couple of Lord's Days who come the Reformed Pres. Is that your bunch?

  4. The RPCNA are us. www.reformedpresbyterian.org.

    Did they find your church similar?

    I always love meeting Covenanters from O/S - so like us in so many ways - and yet so deliciously different at the same time...bit like you, really!!

    Have a nice day.

  5. I'm not sure how different things were for them, but they seemed to fit right in and enjoy the fellowship and we loved having them!
    The daughter is studying medicine in Brisbane and I think attends the Pres. Reformed there.

    RPCNA, PRC, EPC, AFC, PCEA et al.... even more in the US. Split Peas indeed!

  6. I'm a Yank and I'm not insulted...course my family wore blue and was on the victorious side of that well-known period of civil disobedience back in the Lincoln administration. Now, folks just south of here would probably take real offense!!


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