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date: 23 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

For centuries, the book of Psalms has been recognized as the hymn book, prayer book, and worship book of the Bible not only in Jewish tradition but also in the Roman Catholic Church and in Protestant worship. Through worship, the psalmist exhorts devotees to “sing new songs unto the Lord.” This article focuses on the singing of the Psalms, first by discussing church music during the Reformation. It then discusses the contributions of the three leaders in the early history of the Protestant movement—Martin Luther in Germany, Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich, and John Calvin in Geneva—in emphasizing the role of music in liturgy, theology, and congregational worship. It also examines the birth of metrical psalmody, the “Old Version” psalter of Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins, the “New Version” psalter of Nicholas Brady and Nahum Tate, and the transition from psalmody to hymnody. It also looks at the role of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley in bringing together the concepts of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Keywords: Psalms, Roman Catholic Church, worship, singing, church music, Reformation, liturgy, metrical psalmody, hymnody, spiritual songs

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