Friday, May 12, 2006

How To Memorise The Psalms

By far the easiest and best way is to sing and learn by heart the Psalms in as near a word for word singable version as possible. Consistency, repetition and catchy tunes are needed. Words and music are needed for every Psalm.

Praise! has at least one setting for each Psalm, some modern, some older tunes. More or less accurate. With metrical notes and index for picking alternative tunes.

Cantus Christi The Canon Press / Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho piano music only no vocals sing along audio CD using repeat function and song book

The Free Church of Scottish Psalter (see

The music edition of The Scots Metrical Psalter (1650) would be a must have book – all Psalms in full – choice of 7 Trinitarian doxologies – 67 paraphrases – 5 hymns.

The metrical psalms were mostly in common meter (CM), though a few were in long meter (LM) or short meter (SM), and a very small number had other metrical patterns. This meant that, within the limits of good taste, almost any psalm could be sung to any psalm tune.

Contained 188 melodies.

All Psalms text and meter available on line at Wonderful website. Click on tune and list of possible tunes displayed. Download and play as MP3 files. Couldn’t be easier.

Even the totally unmusical can sing any Psalm at home if they have a decent computer and internet connection.

If one's goal is the closest possible representation of the original Hebrew, then this may well be the best Psalter, even though its language and poetry sometimes seems awkward and contrived.

In spite of its age and sometimes quaint wording, the Scottish Psalter still retains great power even today. Unusualness can aid memorisation. If one had to use only one metrical Psalter, this one would be a good choice.

See further the excellent resourses and links at Music For The Church of God One of the uses of this website is to help you create your own new hymns by combining the public domain words and music resources found here. Here are some samples of:
Songs Created from Resources on This Website.

Version of the full Psalter with doxologies and versions of Psalms or sections thereof, Church Hymnal, third edition (1973)

Maybe Church Hymnal, fourth edition (2005) Music edition: ISBN 1-85311-613-0 – most popular Psalms.

Other tips / resources?

The Cyberhymnal

Over 2000 classic hymns, with MIDI files for music, downloadable scores for most of the tunes, pictures and biographies of the song writers, etc. A great resource for public domain songs. Many of the MIDI files used on this website are from The Cyberhymnal.

Reformed Net Audio Psalter

This denomination has been singing nothing but the Psalms, from the Scottish Metrical Psalter, for several hundred years. They have the full Scottish Psalter, with appropriate tunes (as MIDI files) for every Psalm, but the tempos are extremely slow. If you have the RealAudio player there are some excellent choir performances of about 15 psalms or portions of psalms.

The Folksong Index

Lots of classic hymns here, along with a little bit of just about everything else--from Stephen Foster and Civil War songs to sea chanties. (By the way, many of the chanties are not the vulgar bar-room songs we tend to think of, some of them are quite beautiful in their way.) MIDI files for many of the songs


Daniel Newman said...

The record Matthew Mason mentioned on his blog, the Psalms of David sung by King's College, Cambridge, is excellent, if you're into Anglican Chant. I bought it and I haven't stopped listening to it since. Once you've learned some tunes, it should be relatively intuitive to apply to any of the Psalms in a modern translation.

Liam Beadle said...

Your link to the Free Church of Scotland Psalter is, alas! not quite right. The Church of Scotland's hymn books are often fine pieces of work. But the latest Free Church of Scotland Psalter is entitled 'Sing Psalms', and is superb. If you can't afford it, sell your bed, buy it and stay up all night singing well written, modern metrical Psalms.

Marc Lloyd said...

Yes, Daniel, thank you. I've bought the CD and listened to it most Sundays and now and again (mainly as background). I find the words not always perfectly clear - they sometimes require concentration or following the text, rather than just impinging on the consiousness. The CD sleeve sadly does not have the words, but one can follow in a Bible of any translation pretty simply. This probably adds value as you have time to think about both translations. I'm afraid you are too optomistic about my musical ability: I'm not able to intuit how to sing any Psalm in a modern translation from listening to the CD, I'm pretty sure. How do I know what notes I'm aiming for? And tune?

Marc Lloyd said...

Liam, does that mean the Wikadpedia article needs updating?

Anonymous said...


I'm only just catching up with all your posts! The Psalter Hymnal produced by the Christian Reformed Church is pretty good, and has good selection of hymns to boot.

The texts used in the Psalms of David CDs are those of the BCP psalter.

Metrical Singer said...

2008-12-29, I don't think WIKI needs an update. The Free Church of Scotland publishes two psalters. The older version (Scottish Metrical Psalms) and the newer version (Sing Psalms). I prefer the original, the new is a lot like the RPCNA psalter ~ modern and Americanized.

I was just at CG Music, and several of their links no longer exist...which means several of yours don't either. A shame, too. I wanted to see Reformed Audio Net and Bagpipes at Best.

Best to check your links. I hope these site return!