“The service should normally include a psalm or psalms”.
– Common Worship (CW) page 27 note 6.
Every clergy-person on being appointed to any post declares before the congregation committed to their charge that he or she “will only use the forms of services which are authorised or allowed by Canon”. Yet how widely are most parishes following the instruction above?
There is a very good reason why they are not. For about 110 years, 1860-1970, it was normal for congregations to chant the psalms in prose. There are still plenty of people living, elderly or in late middle age, who experienced this. Alas, although it may sound beautiful sung by a trained cathedral choir on Radio 3 on a Wednesday afternoon, for ordinary people prose sung that way is as good as unsingable.
Yet the canonical command is not just an inconvenient relic from the past. It is saying something important. Hymns are one of the treasures of British worship. Many are profoundly inspired by scripture. Even so,
singing scripture itself is different and is special.
It is not the same as singing Charles Wesley’s, Graham Kendrick’s or even Keith Getty’s spiritual thoughts inspired by scripture.
This site provides a downloadable psalter in metre, with at least one suggested tune for each psalm, designed so that ordinary people can sing them. They are on the page ‘How to find what you are looking for’.