Monday, April 11, 2016

The Psalms Project {Giveaway}


I love the Old Testament. I've loved it from the first time I read it as a fourteen-year-old struggling through the confusing names, places and stories, but enthralled with the sense of discovering hidden treasures. In the years since I've read it at least a dozen times. The more I read it the more the stories, the names, and the places make sense and become more intriguing. Yet, despite my love for the Old Testament there is one part that I dread every time I read it-- Psalms.

It has always been my least favorite book of scripture.  It is long, has no recognizable story or characters, is repetitive, and just sort of boring. In fact, I'd assumed that most people didn't enjoy Psalms but have recently had cause to recant that opinion.

On my most recent reading of the Old Testament I was rapidly approaching (and dreading) the book of Psalms when I went to the adult session of Stake Conference. I was amazed when the temple matron (our temple is Winter Quarters) got up and spoke of her love for the Psalms. She spoke about them in such a loving, personal way and I realized that I had been missing something important. Afterward I went up to thank her and admit my dislike for Psalms. She smiled, a big knowing smile,  and said, "Oh, they aren't meant to be read. The word "Psalms" means "songs". They are hymns. You have to sing them!"

I thought about her words, but I knew that I wasn't musically talented enough to put anything to music... let alone ancient scripture. So, when I reached Psalms in my personal study I promptly skipped over it again and went on to Proverbs.



Then one day, as I was preparing to teach my Seminary class about Psalms it dawned on me that other people had probably already done the hard work of putting the psalms to music. I began scouring the Internet for people who had already put the psalms to music. I found lots of them, but quickly realized that some were better done than others.

My very favorites were done by a group I found called The Psalms Project, who have the goal to put all 150 Psalms to music. So far they have done Psalms 1-20, with the next ten on the way. I listened to some of them online and then wrote to the group and asked if they would be willing to send me copies of their CDs to review for my blog, which they did. I've been using the CDs for my scripture study, listening to the Psalms as I follow along in my scriptures. For the ones they haven't done yet, I've been listening to this YouTube channel.

 Best way ever to read  Psalms!


I've listened to many of these psalms over and over again. The Psalms Project brings them to life in a way that reading them can never do. Like the temple matron said, the Psalms weren't meant to be read. Its like reading through our modern day hymnal without having any idea what the songs sound like when put to music. There is still much wisdom and doctrine to be gleaned from them, but they don't come alive until you hear them.

 I've found the same is true for the Psalms. Listening to them, while reading along in my scriptures,  has brought them alive for me. They have touched my soul and I've felt my own soul join in the song as I've caught the message King David and the other psalmists were trying to convey. The Psalms Project has done a good job at capturing and conveying the spirit of each one, even if sometimes the words don't match what is written in the KJV. As Shane, the director of the band, said,
" I use a combination of Bible translations, primarily the ESV, KJV/NKJV, and NASB, to put the lyrics together. I also study the Psalms extensively using commentaries and the original Hebrew to make sure we are capturing “the essential meaning of every verse.” I do not follow any specific translation word for word, though some songs may come somewhat close. I try to balance faithfulness to the literal text with the aesthetic quality of the song."
Even though it isn't always word to word to what is in the KJV, The Psalms Project's interpretation of the psalms has really helped me understand what each one is talking about, and more importantly what its message is. Here are a few of my favorites:





Aren't they beautiful?

My only critique is that some of the Psalms are a bit too "rock and roll" for my liking. I feel like the Psalms should be hymns, and there are a few where it is hard to understand the words at times because the music gets overpowering. Still, the majority of them are beautifully done.

I have so loved studying the Psalms this way. It has transformed my opinion of them. I now understand why the temple matron loves them so much. They are beautiful and touch the depths of human emotion and our relationship with God. King David had a full life, full of joy and sorrow, and faith and doubt and his psalms capture it all. I'm now excited, rather than dreading, working my way through all of 150 of them.

I am just as excited that The Psalms Project gave me a set of CDs to giveaway to one of my readers! If you would like to start your own journey of the Psalms please use the widget below to join in.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can also purchase the CDs (or individual tracks) on Amazon, iTunes or Spotify. Here are the links for Volume 1 and Volume 2 on Amazon. You can also listen to previews, or purchase individual tracks there as well.

34 comments:

  1. I like the psalms okay. I feel like its best to read one psalm a day instead of just reading through the whole book at once. I like songs though so this is great too.

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  2. Oh, beautiful! Thanks for making us aware of The Psalms Project and for offering the CDs as a giveaway.

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  4. WOW! I had heard of The Psalms Project, but never looked into it. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Though I have read through Psalms (only once completely), I don't feel like I have a favorite. Maybe if I think of them as more of a song, I will find one.

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  6. Oh I'd love these!!!
    - Ashley Parkinson :)

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  7. I sometimes forget that the Psalms are songs. Every time I start to read them, I see prayers. But then, doesn't Doctrine & Covenants say that "the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me"? :)

    I haven't read all of them yet, but so far Psalm 46 is my favorite.

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  8. Psalm 121 is amazing and the music is so lovely. I have a feeling I'll get much more out of them if they're set to music. :)

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  9. Most of the psalms have already been put to music multiple times over the centuries. For several hundred years, in certain parts of the Europe and North America, psalms were the only things allowed to be sung in worship services. I have a copy of the current Presbyterian hymnal, which includes an entire section of about 100 of the psalms, meant to be sung by the congregation. I love the psalms; but with that said i don't think Psalms is a book to just read straight through. I go to it when I want to be uplifted by beautiful poetry and pick out a few at a time to read. My 9-year-old daughter is currently memorizing the 23rd psalm as part of our homeschool.

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    1. One of my favorites is Psalm 27; there is a beautiful choral setting by John Rutter that I love.

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  10. i really feel out of my depth in the old testament and especially in psalms, i don't have a favorite because i haven't spent much time with them, but i love proverbs!

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  11. I haven't particularly liked the Psalms either, but I'm excited to listen to them sung! Thanks for highlighting the Psalms Project.

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  12. I have never heard of the Psalms Project before. I can't say that I have spent much time studying Psalms, so I have a lot to learn

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  13. I've always enjoyed the Psalms (at least most of them - some have incredibly violent imagery that I have a hard time with), but I like them better in small doses. It's hard to sit down and read straight through the entire book of Psalms, but reading just one or two at a time makes them more potent for me.

    And I don't mind the idea of different styles of music for some of the Psalms, some more hymn-like, some more pop-like. The Psalms themselves have different themes and tones and different music will touch different people, so I'm all for diversity in the musical settings.

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    1. Also, I love that they're using various translations so they can get the message of the Psalm across more clearly. I think that's a powerful tool that we Mormons don't always utilize as much as we could. Sometimes reading a passage of scripture in a different language or an alternate translation jars me out of my "rut" of familiarity and helps me see it in a new light.

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  14. Psalm 23 is the one I'm most familiar with. (I'd submit most people are) It has been put to music countless times, but I think this one is my favorite:

    https://youtu.be/yLxdb3ov-zE

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  15. This is fantastic. Years ago I had a friend who made an album of the Psalms and it has been one of my favorites.

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  16. It's like listening to Christian Rock! And you know how much I love Christian Rock :) And to your point that sometimes they sound too "rock and roll" hymns are defined as "a song of praise" and while almost all Mormon hymns are mellow and reverent, a lot of other Christian faith's have hymns that are much more lively. Christian Rock songs are a staple in a lot of other Christian worship, especially among youth programs.

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  17. Oh, this is exciting! I've been studying and blogging about the Psalms, and this is a lovely addition! Can't wait to look them up on YouTube and elsewhere!

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  18. These sound like something I would enjoy listening to while I work! Thank you!

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  19. I always wondered at the Musical notes at the first of some of the Psalms. Notes about instruments that no one know about now, etc. I like the samples.

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  20. Okay, I usually "skim-through" the Psalms as I am not fond of poetry and they were written in a form that didn't appeal to me. Now with the info I learned from your post, I will be on my way to a better understanding of them. The Psalms set to music will be a great avenue for me to increase in my scriptural knowledge! Glad to know there is additional help out there.

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  21. This was a timely post for me as I am currently reading through the Psalms with my 3 year old daughter. I did know they were songs, so this was a fun sampling to hear some of them put to music.

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  22. God is our refuge. We will not fear, though the earth give way. The nations rage, kingdoms fall. "Be still and know that I am God.

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  23. My favorite lesson when I was teaching the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine class was when we did the Psalms. I had singers prepare several musical numbers that were the Psalms set to music. I had asked class members the week before to choose a psalm that they found beautiful or meaningful and be prepared to read it. We just went around the room with class members reading a psalm and had a musical number starting and ending the class and breaking up the reading in the middle. I found it very moving to just listen to the Psalms in this way without any commentary. I'm a singer and have many favorite psalms that bring to mind the musical settings that I've heard or sung.

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  24. Thanks for letting me know about the Psalms Project! I look forward to listening to the songs.

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  25. I honestly have not paid much attention to Psalms. Maybe this will motivate me.

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  26. I am the opposite of you. I have rolled my eyes at the Old Testament my whole life, but I have always loved Psalms. My favorite is The Lord is My Shepherd. I love the arrangement by Motab called My Shepherd Will Supply My Need.

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  27. I have never been that interested in the psalms except for maybe the ones already put to more popular music, but now I'm excited to start thinking of them as songs and not just read straight through! Thank you!

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  28. I have always enjoyed the Psalms. But I enjoy reading poetry too. I love the lyrical nature and the symbolism used. It is one of my favorite books of scriptures, especially David's psalms. I love watching him go through the repentance process, I have learned a lot about godly sorrow and the grace of forgiveness from reading David's psalms. The story of David for me is found in Psalms not in the books of Samuel.

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    1. Ooh, that is a good point, that David's story is found in the Psalms. I like that a lot!

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  29. I love the Psalms, because they are poetry. I am naturally inclined to reading poetry. I am blown away by the music. What a wonderful project!

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