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Archive for the ‘Psalms’ Category

From the mid-16th to the 17th century, psalm-singing in England exploded in popularity. English psalters were published at an incredible rate, and the people sang from them not only in church, but throughout their work day, and at home in the evening. Singing metrical psalms in four-part harmony was as much a form of family entertainment then as watching a movie is for us now.

John Jewel, an Anglican Bishop, wrote to a friend from London in 1560 describing a typical Lord’s day, “As soon as they had commenced singing in public, in only one little church in London, immediately not only the churches in the neighborhood, but even the towns far distant began to vie with each other in the same practice. You may sometime see at St. Paul’s Cross, after the service, six thousand persons, old and young, of both sexes, all singing together and praising God.”

Such wide-spread enjoyment of Psalm-singing was evidence of the influence of the Puritans who were hoping to bring to England the full-bodied reformation that was roaring along on the European continent. In their desire to reform the English Church from within, the Puritans took many of their cues from the Genevan reformation effort and placed Psalm-singing as a cornerstone of their liturgical reforms.

Yet this broad delight in the singing of the songs of Scripture was soon brought into question, and the peace disturbed by those whose hearts were three sizes too small. (more…)

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