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Psalms in Worship

The Psalms are a font of inspiration, encouragement, and instruction in the life of both public and private prayer.

From Basil to Bonhoeffer to Bono, the enthusiasm that emanates from wise Christian writers of every historical period points to the Psalms as one of the richest sources of wisdom for the practice of worship.

Key Insights

  1. Wise is the worshiping community that promotes faithful and fruitful use of the biblical psalms in Christian worship.
  2. Wise is the church leader who recognizes the long history of Christian psalmody as well as the recent outpouring of new psalm settings—for praying and singing—from a wide range of Christian traditions and cultures.
  3. Happy is the congregation that carries the spiritual vitality and rugged beauty of the psalms from corporate worship into weekday living.



PsalmsForAllSeasons.jpg Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship  (Faith Alive, 2012)

by Martin Tel, Joyce Borger, and John D. Witvliet.
This book is one of the most comprehensive resources on the Psalms for use in Christian worship. It covers the history, reception, and practice of psalm use and contains all 150 psalms, most in multiple formats.

The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship Korean Version The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources  

by John D. Witvliet.
This book opens with a summary of key biblical-theological themes related to the practice of worship. It continues with reflections on every step in the process of preparing to use the psalms in worship, drawing on insights from writings on the history, theology, and pastoral practice of worship, liturgy, and preaching.

voicinggodspsalms.jpg Voicing God’s Psalms  

by Calvin Seerveld.
This poignant volume, along with its finely produced audio CD, will help people hear the voice of God speaking through fresh verse translations of the biblical psalms.

Psalms+unplugged.jpg Psalms Unplugged  

by The Psalms Project.
The texts are fresh and contemporary settings of the ancient biblical psalms. The tunes are also fresh and contemporary versions of 16th century tunes from the Genevan Psalter of 1562, produced under the leadership of John Calvin.

musicofthegenevanpsalter.jpg Music of the Genevan Psalter (CD)  (Calvin College, 1999)

This CD brings the music of the 16th century Genevan Psalter to life! Selections include settings of Psalms 23, 25, 33, 42, 100, 103, 116, 124, 134, 138, 150 and the Song of Simeon.

jazzpsalms.jpg Jazz Psalms (CD)  (Calvin College, 2004)

A part of Calvin College's worship history was a weekly service known as Jazz Vespers: students gathered to walk through an ancient prayer service in a contemporary, creative, informal, improvisational, and multi-sensory way.

Psalms for Young Children  (Eerdmans Books For Young Readers, 2008)
by Marie-Helen Delval (Author) and Arno (Illustrator)
This collection of Psalms, paraphrased for young readers, uses simple yet powerful imagery to help children express their feelings.

Psalms: God Cares How I Feel  (Friendship Ministries, 2010)
Friendship Ministries integrates songs inspired by the Psalms with student materials, group leader’s resources that include a DVD, and a special devotional CD. Friendship Ministries reaches people with intellectual disabilities (“friends”), developing mentors, and equipping caregivers to communicate God’s love.

150 by Kevin Adams 150: Finding Your Story in the Psalms  (Square Inch, 2010)
by Kevin Adams
In this book, Kevin Adams shares stories of unlikely psalm prayers and an unpredictable God, opening up the honest and earthy world of the psalms in new and unexpected ways.

Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit  (Cascade Books, 2007)
by Walter Brueggemann
In this thoroughly revised edition, Walter Brueggemann guides the reader into a thoughtful and moving encounter with the Psalms. This new edition includes a revised text, new notes, and new bibliography.

Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor  (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002)
by William P. Brown
The psalmists' use of metaphor, the author argues, has the power to captivate the imagination, edify the mind, and cultivate moral discernment and theological reflection.

Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible  (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1974)
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart." Thus we find the book of Psalms to be a rich treasury of prayers that are part of God's inspired word, and therefore a true place to learn how God would have us pray.

Honest to god.jpg Honest to God: Psalms for Scribblers, Scrawlers and Sketchers   (Faith Alive Christian Resources)

by James Schaap
In this series of meditations on the Psalms, James C. Schaap invites you to take off on a riff the way a blues saxophonist might. Even if you don't have a musical bone in your body, he wants you to pick up a pen or a pencil and respond to the melody these meditations bring to mind. Let loose. Let yourself go. Let yourself dream.

Sandra McCracken PsalmsPsalms by Sandra McCracken (CD, 2015)
This collection on songs includes settings of Pslms 42, 43, 62, 104, 113, and 119. 

Web Resources

Our Sacred Song
Church Music Director, Jason Locke, offers new settings of the mass, short songs and psalm settings for use in Christian worship.

Using More Psalms in Worship
There are so many wonderful ways to sink psalms into worshipers' hearts, minds, and lives.

Singing More Psalms in Worship 
Rediscovering the Psalms as the Bible’s songbook helps congregations navigate the paradoxes of moving toward full communion with God.

Psalms in Worship: God knows we need help praying
Congregations have discovered that the Psalter provides a powerful vocabulary of faith.

The Psalm Project: Reworking Genevan psalms for a new generation
Composer Eelco Vos founded The Psalm Project to make ancient biblical psalms accessible to today’s worshipers.

Psalms of Ascent: songs for the journey
The psalms were written long ago by people living in a time and place very different from ours. Yet they express emotions we all feel, which makes them helpful for our journey through life.

Why Persecuted Christians Sing Psalms in Pakistan
Rev. Eric Sarwar is on a mission to help Pakistani Christians reclaim a heritage of singing Psalms in Punjabi, set to indigenous melodies and rhythms.

Two Thanksgiving Litanies: With Responses from the Psalms
A responsive reading for a Thanksgiving service that starts out being thankful for the "big picture items" but progresses down to some close and personal items for which we also need to be thankful to God.

All Nature Sings: The Ecological Witness of the Psalms
Listen for what the psalms have to say about creation's unique capacity for praise, as well as the psalms' implicit critique of any attempt to stifle creation's song.

Singing the Shepherd Psalm
Part 1 of a 3 article series.

Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship
The companion website to the publication Psalms for All Seasons.  It includes additional resources such as performance notes, teaching video on chanting the psalms, church year resources, and much more.

Psalmfest Mini-grants Program
The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is providing support to worshiping communities to host a public worship event (Psalmfest) that features congregational singing based on our brand-new publication Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.