Yesterday I traveled down to Columbia, South Carolina to spend the day talking with Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old on the psalms in Christian worship. My church (Christ the King) is currently working through a year long grant from CICW on the Psalms of Ascents and I wanted to hear from Dr. Old on psalms and daily prayer. A class which he is preparing to teach this spring at Erskine’s Columbia campus housed at 1st Presbyterian Church (ARP) where Sinclair Ferguson currently resides as senior minister.
I originally met Dr. Old in the context of a truly ‘convergent’ event. He was traveling into Reformed Theological Seminary-Orlando as the featured speaker for our spring series on the Lord’s Supper. It also so happened that Robber Webber was at RTS leading a one-day conference on his new book “Ancient-Future” worship. I was working in the student services office and was asked to drive Dr. Old around while he was in town and someone had the ‘brilliant’ idea of taking Dr. Old and Robbert Webber out to dinner so I got to tag along with a few other students and faculty. It was a bit of a tense dinner. Someone would ask a question about worship and then look at either Dr. Old or Robbert Webber to respond. Wish I had a tape recording of that dinner.
When I arrived for the day I was quickly ushered into a seat and thrust a hefty paperback. The biggest news of the day was that the finale volume (VII) of his opus on The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church had just arrived. As if that wasn’t enough I was shown manuscripts of a two volume work on the Lord’s Supper and a manuscript of The Christian Use of Art that is coming along nicely. Dr. Old is also re-working a little paperback that he published 20 years ago on “Praying the Bible” that I am looking forward to using in its native form until the new one is out. (If you search hard you might grab a copy on Abebooks). Great chapters on 1. Praying the Lord’s Prayer, 2. Praying in the Name of Jesus, 3. Praying the Canticles, 4. Praying the Psalms, and 5. Praying Continually: The Service of Daily Prayer.
Other topics of conversation relating to worship were:
– A story about his first student pastorate where he painted a series on the Psalms of Ascents and hung them from the pulpit as he preached each Psalm.
– Article with Reggie Kidd in the March Issue of Worship Leader magazine on the biblical terms Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs.
– A reminder of Johann Zwicks work as a German hymnodist and usurper of music to catechism. (nothing new under the sun!)
– The Passover psalms (113-118), or ‘Egyptian Hallel’ for use during Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday services.
– His liturgy for celebrating Easter Vespers.
– His time spent with John Schreiner and the Odes Project.
*image – Dr. Old in pulpit preaching at my wedding at Mt. Pisgah UMC in Midlothian, Va.