Nathan Gilmour chats a spell with David Grubbs and Michial Farmer about Psalm 119. The trio ranges from the literary form of the verse to the ways that the Psalm has shaped the identities of monks and fundamentalists, landing eventually on some pedagogical speculation.

2 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #146: Psalm 119”
  1. A minoe correction.  Nathan’s description of hexameter was pretty accurate. It’s not true, however, that each line has six long syllables, but six feet, since any sequence of short-short in the first 5 feet can be replaced by a single long-syllable.  That substitution affords the poet quite a bit of freedom in his line, even though the dactylic rhythm (dum-diddy) predominates.

    Rodney Merrill has translated the Iliad and Odyssey into English hexameter verse.  Even though our verse forms are based on stress instead of vowel-length, it still gives you a pretty good feel for the hexameter (as someone who’s read a lot of Homer aloud in Greek, I can say that Merrill’s rhythm feels quite familiar).  Anyone who’d like a sample of what the hexameter sounds like in English can go here:

  2. Another edifying episode.  Thank you!  Regarding the use of psalms in worship services in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).  There is a broad distribution of usage in the OPC.  Some churches will only sing songs based on the psalter (psalms in English put to music) and with no instruments.  These churches are a lot like the RPCNA (Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America).  All you get is a pitch-pipe and a psalm when it comes to music and worshipping God through singing.  Personally I am not convinced that the New Testament Church is to worship Christ only in the types and shadows that are found in the Book of Psalms.  Psalms are important.  Psalms are beautiful.  Psalms are for Christians today.  But we have God’s people in both Old and New Testaments singing praises to God with new songs, hymns, and spiritual songs.  And Christ has come.  The fullness of God’s revelation has come in Christ.  We have the realty that the psalms spoke of only in the types and shadows of the Old Testament (with respect to the Messiah and his particular mission / ministry).  I’d say that the OPC churches that practice “exclusive psalmody”are in the minority.

    The vast majority of OPC churches use the psalms frequently in worship, including preaching sermons from the Book of Psalms.  However, they don’t use them exclusively when it comes to singing in worship. Also, it is not uncommon for a presbytery to assign a psalm as the preaching text for a candidate for ministry during examinations.  They want to see if that candidate can preach Christ out of the Old Testament.  The OPC is also working with the United Reformed Church in North America (URCNA) on a new psalter-hymnal for publication and use in worship services.  The psalter portion is complete.  Now they are working on what hymns will be included.

    My particular OPC church uses psalms on a weekly basis throughout the service.  Typically we receive a call to worship by the minister reading a psalm or verses from a psalm (e.g., Psalm 95:6).  That is followed by the Gloria Patri, and after we sign the G.P. we have an Apostolic greeting that is a responsive reading that uses a NT epistle and an excerpt of a psalm (e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:3 followed by Psalm 67:1-2).  We use the (red) Trinity Hymnal which has a lot of songs that are psalms put to music and we frequently sing these songs though not exclusively.

    Thanks for spending time to mine some nuggets out of Psalm 119.

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