With appreciation to the congregations I have had the privilege of serving and who have helped me refine these psalms for use in worship:
June 1983-June 1988
Attica United Methodist Church, Attica (rural Knoxville), Iowa
Olive Chapel United Methodist Church, rural Knoxville, Iowa
Zion United Methodist Church, Pershing (rural Knoxville), Iowa
June 1988-June 1994
Bagley United Methodist Church, Bagley, Iowa
Jamaica Union Church, Jamaica, Iowa
Yale United Methodist Church, Yale, Iowa
July 1994-June 1997
New Market United Methodist Church, New Market, Iowa
Maple Grove United Methodist Church, Guss (rural Villisca), Iowa
Braddyville United Methodist Church, Braddyville, Iowa
Shambaugh United Methodist Church, Shambaugh, Iowa
July 1997-June 2002
Calvary United Methodist Church, Stratford, Iowa
South Marion United Methodist Church, rural Stratford, Iowa
*Homer United Methodist Church, Homer (rural Webster City), Iowa
Duncombe United Methodist Church, Duncombe, Iowa
May 1998-June 2002
McGuire Bend United Brethren Church, rural Dayton, Iowa
July 2002-June 2005
Slater United Methodist Church, Slater, Iowa
Sheldahl United Methodist Church, Sheldahl, Iowa
July 2005-June 2010
Renwick United Methodist Church, Renwick, Iowa
Goldfield United Methodist Church, Goldfield, Iowa
Bussey United Methodist Church, Bussey, Iowa
Hamilton United Methodist Church, Hamilton, Iowa
Lovilia United Methodist Church, Lovilia, Iowa
*Closed June 2008
Ever wonder when using these psalms whether "Israel" has two or three syllables? Or "power" has one or two? If you have encountered this problem in using these settings (and you probably have), you'll be happy to know that I am in the process of putting syllabization into the settings. I will start with those to be used in the near future and pick up the others as I go. Your patience is appreciated.
The Psalms were written to be sung. Indeed, they are the sung prayerbook of the Jewish people to this day. The superscriptions which appear at the beginning of many of the Psalms indicate they are directed to the "choirmaster." Sometimes tune names are given. A few psalms carry the attribution "of the sons of Korah," which was the musician division of the tribe of Levi.
The psalms also have long been sung in the Christian tradition. Monks and nuns chant them. Other traditions sing them antiphonally. The Protestant Reformers advocated singing the Psalms; to this day, some Protestant denominations sing nothing else, and others consider them the central piece of their congregational song. These denominations, for the most part, sing metrical psalms.
What are metrical psalms?
Metrical psalms are psalms written in a metered, poetic format so they can be set to familiar hymn tunes. The first metrical psalters appeared in Switzerland and France at the time of the Protestant Reformation. To this day, the churches of the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions have been the leading users of metrical psalmody. The first metrical psalter in English, that of Sternhold, was published prior to his death in 1549.
So Who Are You, and How Did You Become Interested in Metrical Psalms?
First of all, my name is Dale A. Schoening. I am a United Methodist pastor residing in Bussey, Iowa, USA, serving as pastor of three congregations. I have been a pastor since 1983 and was ordained Elder in 1985.
My journey into sung psalmody began in 1985, when I was exposed to singing the psalms at a worship convocation. The varieites of sung psalmody being advocated there were basically chanted and antiphonal. In fact, the workshop instructors had nothing good to say about metrical psalmody! Finding singing an exciting way to use the psalms (certainly more exciting than the dread responsive reading), I brought the idea home and started experimenting with antiphonally sung psalmody in the three small congregations I was serving at the time. The polite feedback I received from them was basically a) this is too difficult for us; b) this feels out-of-sync with our tradition. At this point I began questioning why metrical psalmody was being disparaged. I soon found answers--archaic language, stilted sentence structure, forced rhyme schemes, and since many metrical settings did one stanza for each verse of the psalm, extreme length in many cases. I decided it was time to come up with a modern, understandable metrical version of the psalms. After all, hymns are the dominant song culture of most small membership Protestant churches. Since metrical psalms are set to hymn tunes, I have found these are much more accessible and acceptable to the congregations I have served.
To do this, I decided to forget rhyming. Hebrew poetry does not rhyme, nor does much contemporary poetry in English. So I began in earnest to write metrical psalm settings for the Common Lectionary. I completed the manuscript in 1987, and published my first book, Sing the Psalms!, the following year. Soon after that, the Revised Common Lectionary replaced the Common Lectionary, so a second volume, Supplementary Volume to Sing the Psalms, was published to update my first book. Frankly, neither one sold well. I had the bad timing to bring out Sing the Psalms! right around the time both the United Methodists and the Presbyterian Church USA issued new hymnals. The UMC psalter is antiphonal, while the PCUSA's uses a variety of styles.
The Internet now gives me a new opportunity to place this material in front of persons involved in the planning and leading of worship. In some cases I have altered my own published material where I have seen improvements can be made.
I hope this material will be useful to you as you plan for the worship of God in your community of faith.
Welcome to the Metrical Psalms Page!!!
Please note: You will no longer find individual dates listed at the left. Please go to the site navigation menu at the left and click the year (A, B, C) you seek, and you will be taken to a page that lists all the Sundays and other holy days and includes links to the appointed psalms.