A Metrical Psalter: The Book of Psalms Set to Meter for Singing. By Julie and Timothy Tennant. Franklin, TN: Seedbed, 2017. 266 pp. Hardcover, $24.95.
A recurring challenge for Free Grace churches is to find songs with good theology. Since most worship songs are written by proponents of Lordship Salvation, that salvation theology is reflected in the lyrics. So what can be done?
For centuries, Christians sang the Psalms, but that practice has mostly died out. “The psalms are for singing—so why don’t we sing them?” (p. xi). The husband and wife team of Julie and Timothy Tennant hope to revive the practice of Psalm-singing with the publication of A Metrical Psalter: The Book of Psalms Set to Meter for Singing. Each Psalm is translated according to a meter that corresponds to familiar tunes such as Amazing Grace; Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing; or Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. The book is also available for free online (http://psalms.seedbed.com). If you would like to start singing the Psalms, this is an excellent book to have. But there are three potential problems with it.
First, the Psalter tunes are mostly taken from older hymns. If you know those old hymns, you’ll be able to sing these Psalms right away. However, churches who want “contemporary” music will not be drawn to use this Psalter.
Second, the imprecatory Psalms will come as a shock. It is odd to sing, “How bless’d will be the one who thus does end your cru-el-ty; Who takes your infants, dashing them upon the rocks justly” (Ps 137:9). Dashing babies on rocks and praying for the destruction of your enemies are not considered good topics for worship. Third, the Psalms do not explicitly teach about Jesus or the free gift of eternal life. Both are there in types and shadows, but not explicitly. So it will be hard for many people to connect these songs to Christ. However, that can provide a good opportunity to teach people how to read the Bible redemptively, as pointing to Christ (Luke 24:27).
I recommend this as a resource for families and churches to bring the Psalms back into worship.
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society