Bono and Eugene Peterson on the Psalms

Bono & Eugene Peterson (c) 2016 Fuller Studios

My friend David Taylor along with a host of other folks from Fuller’s new studio project released a video this week that captures the relationship between U2’s Bono and Eugene Peterson over the past 20 years.  The video culminates in a short discussion at the Peterson’s home in Flathead Lake, Montana where Bono sings a bit of Psalm 23 as he recollects his youth in Ireland.   Taylor also produced a page of resources for exploring the psalms that covers a wide range of topics (art, study, devotion, worship, music). Cardiphonia contributed a list of recent attempts to set the psalms to music for congregational worship.


Resource Page

Here is a list of projects related to the psalms that Cardiphonia has sponsored over the past few years.

Songs for the Sojourns (Calvin Worship Grant exploring the Psalms of Ascents)

Hallel Psalms – modern folk arrangements of Psalms 113-118

Psalms 135-150Vol. 1 // Vol 2.  – 32 songs exploring these psalms from a variety of modern pop-folk styles.


Contemporary Psalms for Worship

Here is a list of some of my favorite psalm based songs for worship…along with a few other places that are good for listening/reading.


Psalm 8 – Glory on Display by Brian Moss
listen | chords | leadsheet

Psalm 16 – I Will Sing Praise to God by Cardiphonia
listen | chords | leadsheet

Psalm 19 – The Heaven’s Declare by Cardiphonia
listen | chords | leadsheet

Psalm 23 – The King of Love My Shepherd Is
listen | chords | leadsheet | other Psalm 23 versions

Psalm 25  by Joe Day
listen | chords

Psalm 46 – by Bifrost Arts Music
listen | chart

Psalm 51 – Only Your Blood Is Enough – by Sojourn Music
listen | chord
Based in Watts – Lord, I am vile, conceived in sin

Psalm 51 – God, Be Merciful to Meby Indelible Grace
listen | chords | leadsheet 

Psalm 57 – Be Gracious to me, Lord – by Hope College Worship
listen | leadsheet

Psalm 62 – My Soul Finds Restby Stuart Townend, Aaron Keyes
listen | chords 

Psalm 72 – Prayer to the King by The Psalm Project
listen | sheetmusic

Psalm 76 – God is Known Among His People – Zac Hicks
listen/buy | chord chart | lead sheet

Psalm 96 – Sing to the Lord a New Song by Cardiphonia
listen | chords | leadsheet

Psalm 100 – All People that on Earth Do Dwell – Zac Hicks
listen/buy | chord chart | lead sheet

Psalm 103 – Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven by Nathan Partain
listen | leadsheet

Psalm 103 – 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord, O My Soul) by Matt Redman
listen | chart | leadsheet

Psalm 113 – Who is Like the Lord Our God? by Wendell Kimbrough
listen | chart  *winner of 2014 Psalm contest @ Church of the Servant

Psalm 117 – Praise the Lord – Jered McKenna
listen | chart

Psalm 118 – He’s Opened the Gates – Wen Reagan
listen | chart

Psalm 121 – I Lift My Eyes Upby Brian Doerksen

Psalm 125 – Firm and Unmoved are Theyby Zac Hicks
mp3 | leadsheet

Psalm 126 – When God Revealed His Gracious Nameby Red Mountain Music
listen | leadsheet – Based in Isaac Watts text for Psalm 126

Psalm 126 – Our Mouths They Were Filled – Bifrost Arts Music
listen | leadsheet

Psalm 127 – Unless the Lord the House – the welcome wagon
listen | leadsheet

Psalm 130 – Out of the Depths by Karl Digerness
listen | leadsheet – Adpt from “Out of the Deep I Call” by Henry W. Baker, 1868 

Psalm 130 – From the Depths of Woeby Chris Miner (Indelible Grace)
listen | chords | leadsheet

Psalm 134 – Come People of Godby Cardiphonia
listen | leadsheet

Psalm 134 – Praise the Lord – by Red River Hymnal
listen | leadsheet


Psalm Based Albums and Projects:

Psalms – by Sovereign Grace Music

The Prayerbook Project – by Brian Moss

Psalms – by Matthew Curl at Intown Pres, Portland

Psalms of Ascents Project – Cardiphonia Project

Now and Not Yet – Matt Searles

Psalms EP – Robbie Seay Band


Bonus Tracks:

Psalm 23 – Mike Crawford
What the Psalms have to teach us about Songwriting – Mark Altrogge
The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship, by John D. Witvliet
Answering God: the psalms as tools for prayer, by Eugene Peterson
Forgotten Songs – C Richard Wells and Ray Van Neste (ed.’s)

Greg Scheer review of Psalm based albums (2007)

Newsnote: article on our psalms of ascents grant

Our church (Christ the King Presbyterian Church, Raleigh) participated in the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Worship Renewal grant program in 2009-2010.   Our church spent a year walking through the Psalms of Ascents (Ps120-134).  Recently CICW published a brief article looking at how our grant provided what was in a sense a ‘full-scriptural immersion’ for our congregation in worship, community study, and private devotion.  Meaning that for a year we preached, studied, sang, read, listened, looked at, and ate, breathed, and slept the Psalms of Ascents.

You can read the article here – LINK

You can look/listen/read resources we developed here – LINK

Notes from Calvin Grant Colloquium

Last week Pj and spent a few days up at Calvin College and Seminary celebrating and learning with the Calvin Worship Grant recipients from 2009 and 2010.  We were awarded a grant in 2009 to walk our congregation through the Psalms of Ascents.

Here’s an overview of our time, people we met, and things we learned:

We were excited to participate:

The services this year were framed around the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany season.  It was really interesting to worship through this season in the beginning of July.  One of my  favorite’s was “Jesus, Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child.”  Pj loved “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” and remembered it from her childhood.   And certainly singing “Shine, Jesus, Shine” with 150 other people shaking egg-shakers was memorable!

Our Worship Grant was a featured ‘case-study’ in the “Sustaining Worship Renewal” workshops on thursday morning.  Robert Nordling, who is a resource specialist with CICW in orchestral music spoke on engaging the congregation through music.  He walked the group through the Nairobi Statement on Worship and Culture. Afterwards I spoke for a few minutes on how we used music and poetry as part of learning and experiencing the Psalms.

We were excited to learn:

John Wivliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship spoke throughout our time together from the Ten Core Convictions about Christian Worship which the CICW has been developing.

On Wednesday Greg Scheer shared the most recent publication from CICW that he has been working on – Global Songs for Worship Project

We were excited to meet:

Matt Stevens and Josh Bain – Vintage21 Church

Matt Stevens is the worship pastor at Vintage21 Church in Raleigh, NC and a great friend.  They are beginning their worship grant year.  You can read more about their grant HERE.

Isaac and Megan Wardell – Trinity Presbyterian

Isaac is the Worship Director at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Va.  Their grant will seek to engage a large congregation (1,000+) in creating a more God-honoring and formative worship environment in a culturally and generationally diverse congregation.  Isaac also heads up BiFrost Arts.

Kristin Moore, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Kris provides pastoral care at the Childrens Hospital and is exploring the Psalms as a source To create scripturally-based, experientially rich worship using music, dance, visual art and writing for patients in treatment at an adolescent residential psychiatric facility.

You can watch the Wednesday evening worship service HERE.

click on ‘Archives’ to the right and choose Worship Renewal Grants Colloquium

The Rise of Eclectic Psalmody

Last week I spent some amazing time up in Grand Rapids, MI creatively assaulting the Psalms.  I was participating in a colloquium on Congregational Song and Psalmody, a gathering spurred on in part by a new psalter being jointly published in 2011 by the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and the Christian Reformed Church (CRC).   The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) hosted the event and invited an eclectic band of congregational song leaders, hymnal editors, and songwriters to participate, representing the spectrum of christian experience and practice.

The guiding question for our time was this:

How can we most faithfully, evocatively, and artistically invite congregations to sing, speak, and pray the biblical psalms, especially in light of all that Biblical scholars are teaching us about these amazing texts?

John Witvliet, director of the CICW, led us through three days of reading, singing, praying, chanting, yelling, and meditating on the Psalms with the end goal of experiencing a richer form of Psalmody which reflected new insights sensitive to the diverse literary forms present in the book of psalms.

(Make sure and pick up a copy of John’s new book “The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship”  This is the best book out there on helping congregations from all corners figure out how to incorporate more psalms in worship.)

Here are a few highlights.

1. The Psalms are full of distinct literary dimensions which either get ignored or trampled in our treatment of them musically.

  • Gearshift psalms – Psalms that demonstrate dramatic shifts in tone, time, and perspective are under served by music which remains consistent in key, mood, and time. Psalm 13, 19, 46,
  • Canonical Ordering – Various psalms are positioned in distinct groupings.  Psalm 9-10 and 111-112 are built on hebrew acrostics.  How can we render these literary structures with musical and vocal presentations?

2. The Psalms may be used regularly in your church’s Worship but they are often dryly presented or undiscerningly read.

  • Contemporary Liturgical Use – Many churches incorporate the psalms as a regular part of their Sunday worship diet.  How can these churches more creatively engage their practice?  We interspersed a reading of Psalm 12 with the verses of Kum ba yah.
  • Script/Dialogue/Drama – Often when a psalm is read or presented in worship, it is read once and worship moves on. This approach obscures the multiple voices and meanings present in most psalms. When reading a psalm take care to script it out, assigning roles in the assembly if possible.  See pg 80 in BPCW for more suggestions. Calvin Seerveld’s “Voicing God’s Psalms” is another great resource for various ways to present psalms corporately.

3. The Psalms are full of rich themes and metaphors which get muffled in our readings and songs.

  • Common Images – the psalms are full of metaphoric images that cry out to be highlighted in our practice.  We worked through Psalms 1, 52, and 92 which all use the common metaphor of ‘tree’ to describe the righteous.  How could we express these metaphors in our song? How could a refrain highlight these central theme’s?

4. How can we use familiar music to reinforce and enliven our experience of psalmody?

  • Hymn Juxtaposition – In this topic we explored pairing well-known hymn tunes and texts with psalms of a similar theme. The psalms was read aloud with different voices, while the hymn provided a sung refrain. Try Psalm 11 with ‘How Firm a Foundation’ or Psalm 87 with “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken’ (Jefferson Tune).
  • Existing Tune Options – Singing metric psalmody is the typical experience for most in the reformed tradition.  One challenge with this method is the artful pairing of text and tune.  What are the strategies we use to create a pairing that lasts for generations? Such as Psalm 100 and the tune Old Hundredth.

Psalms of Ascents Worship Grant featured in ByFaith Magazine

ByFaith Magazine has a great write-up today about our Psalms of Ascents Worship Grant at Christ the King.  Here is a link to read the article.


Also a big shout-out to Scott Redd, our friend and professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando for setting this project on solid footing.  Scott led a workshop for the Grant Team last May that walked us through the poetic and cultural landscape of the Psalms of Ascents.  Many of the ideas in this article were shaped by Scott’s direction.  Eventually we will have audio and notes of that talk available.

Maundy Thursday Service

<click on image above to download a pdf of our service>

Our church, Christ the King Presbyterian is celebrating a semi-traditional Maundy Thursday Service tonight. Maundy comes from ‘mandatum novum’ the latin word for commandment and originates in Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 13, where after the Passover he says “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you.”
The three themes that typically mark a Maundy Thursday Service are:
• The events in the Upper room, where Jesus celebrates the last Passover with his
disciples, and institutes the Lord’s Supper in his name.
• The washing of the disicples feet.
• Jesus’ new command to his disciples to love one another.
Along side these central events we will also reflect on how scripture has used the recurring theme of food to impart God’s presence with his people looking at scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, with a nod to the ‘Egyptian Hallel’ (Psalms 113-118) as the hymns that Jesus sung with his disciples during Passover (Matthew 26:30).

The music will celebrate the culmination of our year long series – Songs for the Sojourn – through the Psalms of Ascents.


Christ the King @ All Saints Chapel, Raleigh

Psalm 134 – Songs for the Sojourn

Psalm 134 - "Grounded, Leaping" (c) Aaron Collier, 2007

This week at Christ the King we are finishing up our series on the Psalms of Ascents by looking at Psalm 134.

Listen to Pastor Steve Brown read Psalm 134

Listen to our Pastor Elliot Grudem on the Psalms of Ascents

Read Psalm 134 in the ESV translation

Psalm 134 – Come People of God
mp3 | leadsheet

Come people of God, praise the Lord

All you who love and obey

Come people of God, praise the Lord

Who serve him by night and by day.

You who lift up your hearts, lift up your hands

Give of your lives unto him.

You who lift up your hearts, lift up your voices

Praise him with true sacrifice.

May the Lord who made all the heavens and earth

Bless you.


Praise the Lord, All You Servants of the Lord
mp3 | leadsheet

– a capella version of Psalm 134 that follows the NIV wording

O Bless Our God, with One Accord
mp3 | leadsheet(4pt)

– psalter hymnal version with Old 100th tune

Ye that Obey th’ Immortal King
mp3 | lyrics

– late night vamp on Psalm 134 – lyrics by Isaac Watts
– music by Bruce Benedict and Brian Murphy

Songs for Psalm 134

Here are a few songs we have been working on from Psalm 134.  We will be singing “Come People of God” this Sunday at Christ the King.


Come People of God
mp3 | leadsheet

– contemporary, congregational version of Psalm 134


Praise the Lord, All You Servants of the Lord
mp3 | leadsheet

– a capella version of Psalm 134 that follows the NIV wording


O Bless Our God, with One Accord
mp3 | leadsheet(4pt)

– psalter hymnal version with Old 100th tune


Ye that Obey th’ Immortal King
mp3 | lyrics

– late night vamp on Psalm 134 – lyrics by Isaac Watts
– music by Bruce Benedict and Brian T. Murphy

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