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  • Prof Dr Noel Tredinnick

Psalm Enchanted Evening

Unpacking this Songbook's hidden treasures

Who says: ‘’men don’t sing’’? I'm keen to unpack some Psalms to show their power, their relevance, and their imperative to today's men. Sorry Guys: forget that old attitude that men don't sing!! The Psalms give us no such alternative because the God who is revealed is the Holy, anointed one who actually gives us our tongues and such a sense of wonder.


Although the Psalms can be soft and scented, a balm, and of comfort to us, most certainly, they are also a man's book for those living dangerously, even away from God, for those who resist, those who even do battle with God.


The Psalms are not soft suggestions: on the contrary, the Psalter is a ''call to take God at His word" - in both praise and petition: the Psalms call us to reliance on the sovereignty and power of God alone, with imperatives and commands. These scriptures are not simply for us to dip and delve into or for a mere casual acquaintance, but the verses of the Psalms are all included to make us sit up and take note, and to obey these prescribed commands of God that flow from these pages.


The musical dimension is unique too. We don't just have this collection to study and read. Psalms are calls to corporate worship: we're meant to sing these scriptures together: these are communal songs of Lament or of Praise or Reassurance or of Fear. Primarily, these portions of scripture are for us to sing to each other, to build up the Body of Christ. We should view the Psalms as that corporate alarm bell that God is sounding. We tell one another of this call-up and of our collective response. ''WE will go into the House of the Lord'' (Psalm 95: 1 - 6; Psalm 118: 23 - 27; Psalm 122: 1)


Our great God - is Lord above all, and most worthy of our praise (Psalm 48). He alone is the one who is proclaimed as Great and full of Wonder and worthy of all declarations we make. God, the great Shepherd, is the focus of our sharing and to whom we testify. Let's not be embarrassed at using a singing voice. God doesn't care a jot whether yours is a beautiful voice or not: you might be a crow or a nightingale! The quality of 'sound' is of no consequence to Him - God only notices the quality of our heart and our honesty before Him. The actual words we declare - the content of our singing - that is of concern to Him.


As we sing together, we lay bare our hearts and bring our lives and our loves to Him in song and lay them on His altar. We worship God both in spirit and in truth, allowing the Holy Spirit's breath to fill our lungs and fuel our minds. As we sing the Psalms of David, or the songs of Asaph, as shared and recorded here for the Director of Music to use to motivate and furnish the troops, then live passages of the Word of God (intended as they are to be SUNG) become for us fresh and lively expressions of our devotion and joy, of our trust and commitment: these passages of scripture are there for us, just as the Lord leads us, whether that be in the ''green pastures'' or ''beside quiet waters'' or ''in the valley of the shadow of death''.


Was it Noel Coward or Cole Porter who coined the phrase; ''Let's do it....Let's fall in love!"? Well, there's the same challenge with singing the Psalms: sure, ''let's do it'' - and ''let's fall in love'' more and more with our Lord and Saviour, who alone is ''Great - and MOST worthy of all our praises''!


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Prof Dr N H Tredinnick is Professor of Conducting and Academic Studies at the GSMD; recently retired Organist and Director of Music at All Souls Church, Langham Place; accomplished and popular composer, writer, broadcaster and lecturer.

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