The gray Psalter symbolizes various things that various people in the CRC don’t like about the denomination. It perpetuates the idea that the denomination is run by people who are pro-WICO, out of touch with contemporary music and culture, and who want to throw out or change everything about the CRC that is good and familiar. Maybe that’s an overreaction and we should just accept it as a hymn book that didn’t turn out so well and now we have better alternatives from sources both within and outside of the denomination. Or, maybe its publication was the turning point in congregations becoming less confident in what comes out of 2850 Kalamazoo Ave. Grand Rapids.
At Church of the Servant we were at the ground zero of that pro-WICO debate. Musically, we started with only the Blue Psalter, but then began writing our own music. Later we put our music and other found music together in a spiral bound supplemental book. Early on, we also used the Psalter Supplement, a paperback that had some very interesting pieces in it, including some Gelineau Psalms (non-metric; tonal, think Taize-ish), also introduced “At the Name of Jesus” (the RV Williams tune, Kings Weston). Since we had borrowed from a variety of sources, those choices came with the older sets of words — so even when we sing them out of the Gray book, I still think back and sing the way I learned them originally. I’m just getting so old.
These days, Greg Scheer feeds us a wider range of music, often pulled from Global Songs for Worship (Faith Alive). He also dips into a variety of Catholic and American fundamentalist sources. We are so blessed to have him as a director.
Today, it was basically request time, a little more loosey-goosey. Christmas-tide music was the theme, but we did sing Ere zij God (PH 214). Alex my son-in-law wondered what was up with that, I explained that it is a great sentimental favorite of the Dutch. When Greg introduced it, he explained to our ESL worshippers, that once this community was also a foreigner in this land and that this was one of the songs that they carried with them. I’m a sucker for such blatantly emotional songs.
As to contemporary music and culture: the real problem is that most churches simply do not have really good back-up bands. The pop format may seem simple, but underneath it’s driven by rhythm. Good drummers/percussionists are as hard to find as good pianists.