Each summer at Riverview, Pastor Wick preaches on the psalms. This summer he'll be covering Psalms 124-134. After next summer he'll have preached through all 150 psalms. Pretty cool.
Anyway, for this summer's series, I proposed that we somehow integrate the Genevan Psalter into our worship. I found this website a couple years ago (which I've posted about before) which has a lot of info about the Genevan Psalter, and even free recordings of each psalm, as well as the sheet music for each psalm. I've even done some research on the psalter, as well as on Reformation era worship music, so being a nerd, this site was a treasure trove for me.
If you listen to any of the recordings of the psalms, you'll quickly realize that many of the tunes (composed in the 16th century) don't really lend themselves too well to corporate worship. They're actually more of a chant style than anything else. So I figured that if we were to have soloists sing the psalms in our worship services, we'd probably have to do a bit of rearranging.
This past Sunday was the first of our summer psalms series, so I figured I'd put myself out there and be the guinea pig to see if arranging these psalms for solo performances would work out. I think it went well. A recording of my arrangement is below, as well as a recording of the original arrangement from the psalter. I didn't alter any of the words, and I tried to incorporate as much of the original "melody" (if it can be called that) as I could. It's not the greatest recording, considering it was recorded live in church, and I'm not sure what that sound is in the beginning. See what you think.
My arrangement of Psalm 124
Psalm 124 - Credit by fatsjoel
And here's the original version from the Genevan Psalter.
The lyrics of Psalm 124:
Let Israel now say in thankfulness
That if the Lord had not our right maintained
And if the Lord had not with us remained
When cruel men against us rose to strive
We'd surely have been swallowed up alive
Yea when their wrath against us fiercely rose
Then would the tide o'er us have spread its wave
The raging stream would have become our grave
The surging flood, in proudly swelling roll,
Most surely would have overwhelmed us all
Blest be the Lord who made us not their prey
As fromt he fowler's net a bird may flee
So from their broken snare did we go free
Our only help is in God's holy name
He made the earth and all the heav'nly frame
Kerry Glewwe stepped in and added a harmony vocal. My sister Susan was on the violin. I played my acoustic and sang the melody. I don't usually get nervous before I sing/speak/preach anymore, but this time was different. This was the first time I had ever done any finger picking on the guitar while singing at the same time (at least for an audience). So I was a bit nervous. Thankfully the chords weren't too bad, and there weren't any barre chords, so I was able to get through it without too many goof-ups. But to make matters even more uncertain, when I came out onto the platform during Pastor Wick's closing prayer, i noticed that my tuning pedal wasn't on (and if the pedal isn't on, you don't get any sound). It automatically turns on if and when an instrument is plugged into it. A quick check of my cords confirmed that my guitar indeed was plugged in, so the battery must have failed at some point during the sermon. So, while Pastor Wick was closing the sermon in prayer, I quickly turned off my amp, unplugged my guitar from the pedal and went straight into the amp. Thankfully it worked.
Overall, I thought using the psalm added nicely to the worship service, and I look forward to arranging more of the psalms throughout the summer.