Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 04, 2012

The Beauty of the Genevan Psalter

Yesterday a good friend of mine showed an interest in the Huguenot Psalms and the Genevan Psalter. As I have always been interested in the French Protestant tradition of singing Psalms instead of hymns, I decided to do a little research. The Genevan Psalter dates back to 1539 and was the brainchild of John Calvin. There have, however, been various other editions, the last one in 1562.

 I soon wondered if there was a 21st century way to hear the arrangements so loved by the Huguenots. Could I actually hear the Psalms sung the way countless Protestant martyrs sang them? It turned out that I could. The Genevan Psalter can be found online at www.genevanpsalter.com, and all 150 Psalms are included, with lyrics and a choice of arrangement. Each page says when the tune for that particular Psalm was constructed. For instance, the tune for the 68th Psalm, the “Huguenot Battle Hymn,” came about in 1543.

Each Psalm page has translations and basic information. I immediately sought out Psalm 132, the one that the martyrs of Matanzas, forgotten along sixteenth century Florida’s bloodied shores, sang so proudly. To hear it sung with the same tune they would have used was amazing. There is also another website found at http://genevanpsalter.redeemer.ca/ that has arrangements for many, not all, Psalms. Granted, the Psalms are all in the English language (at least the ones that I checked), and those particularly interested in the Huguenots’ French translations will have to search elsewhere.

 During these studies, I was again reminded why I must keep the martyrs’ names alive. We must never forget the sacrifices and strengths of our Protestant forebears. It is a small thing to ask that their stories might be remembered.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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