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Returning to an Old Friend: William S. Plumer on Psalms

Tomorrow evening at First Presbyterian Church Yazoo City I begin a series of sermons on the Psalms. One of the highlights of preparing to preach Psalm 1 is returning to an old and trusted friend, William S. Plumer’s Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks. His exposition is faithful to the text, and his doctrinal and practical remarks are full of  the pastoral wisdom that makes for solid sermon applications.

Since I purchased this book in the early 1990s, it has been my “go to” commentary on Psalms.

Nuggets from this week’s reading:

“The sum of [Psalm 1] is that the just and he alone is blessed.”

“However tried and afflicted, every servant of God has vast treasures of good things in possession and in prospect.”

“A man’s walk is the course of his life. When the tenor of one’s ways is like that of the wicked, he is wicked.”

“A good man loves the decalogue, because it is the transcript of God’s moral character.”

“It has ever been and will ever be true that if men would be saved, they must forsake bad company.”

“It is not wonder that the truly pious grow in purity. Their thoughts dwell on the most ennobling themes.”

“. . . the righteous man is on the side of duty. He honestly intends and endeavors to do what is right, because it is right and obligatory.”

“Seldom do men forsake a wicked life, until they are convinced of its misery.”

“Of all the follies of men none  can be worse than that of hiding from themselves their true condition and character.”

One of the most satisfying aspects of ministry is sermon preparation, for with it comes the opportunity in study to receive the counsel of old friends. I enthusiastically recommend William S. Plumer’s commentary to my RTS students.


– William S. Plumer, Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks. 1867. Carlise, PA: Banner of Truth, 1990.

Sing: A Resource for Singing the Psalms

Psalm singers will want to  visit Sing: A Resource for Singing the Psalms, the website of Dr. Timothy Tennant, president of Asbury Theological Seminary, and his wife, Julie.  All 150 metrical psalms are paired with suggested tunes, which are found at the top of each psalm. For example, Psalm 94 is set to the tune Kingsfold.

The authors share that “this resource grew not only out of their theological and musical training, as well as their deep love for the Scriptures, but also out of a very personal experience of encountering God through singing the Psalms together daily.”

The website is easy to navigate, and provides excellent resources and helpful tips for believers wishing to include psalm singing in their personal and family worship.

(HT: John Rakshith Prabhakar)


Teaching Children to Sing the Psalms

For more than a year I preached at the evening services of a congregation that sings only the Psalms in worship. Among my many happy memories are meeting young children who sang the psalter outside of public worship to the musical recordings of New Song, a student  group from Geneva College that sings the Psalms a cappella. The children’s enthusiasm for New Song led me to purchase Psalms of Praise Volume 1  and  Volume 2. What a joy to find children whose musical tastes were shaped by the Psalter and traditional tunes! We shouldn’t underestimate the capacity of children to learn at an early age  great music and to commit large portions of scripture to memory.

I am grateful to live in a day when beautiful Psalter recordings are available, including Psalms of the Trinity Psalter Volume 1 and Volume 2, and Psalms of Scotland.

Follow this link for my description of a resource to help family’s learn the psalter tunes and texts of The Book of Psalms for Worship.

iPhone/iPad App – The Book of Psalms for Worship


I enthusiastically sing the Psalms, both in private and public worship. Therefore, I am grateful to live in a time when new resources encouraging their use appear regularly.

My friend John brought to my attention the iPhone/iPad app for the RPCNA’s The Book of Psalms for Worship.  If you are unfamiliar with tunes in the Psalter, the app enables you to view printed metrical psalms while singing along to suitable tunes. The obstacle of not knowing the tune is overcome.

Many books and articles extol the benefits of Psalm singing. Dr. Terry Johnson makes the case with clarity and brevity.

Let me add another benefit of singing the Psalms: it promotes a pace of reading the text suitable for understanding, reflection, and prayer.

During my four years at Sewanee, Mr. Theron Myers taught the Sunday School I attended at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. At the time he was in his mid to late 80s. Each class was a feast from God’s word. His learning was considerable and his life applications always timely. Mr. Myers recommended readers use the King James Bible because its Elizabethan language does not lend itself to skimming, and slows down the pace at which modern American Christians read the text.

The singing of Psalms does the same. In addition to its other many other benefits, Psalm singing forces worshippers to take a step back from the frantic pace of modern life as they come before God with the songs of prayer he has graciously provided in his infallible word.

If you need assistance in learning to sing the psalms,  this app will prove a valuable resource.