I have to admit that sometimes when I read the psalms, it's easy to skim through them without paying close enough attention - I've encountered them before and somehow in my reading, the emotion and power of the psalms stay locked in the text. Psalm songs, volume I by Corner Room music is a brilliant remedy to this problem. By setting twelve psalms into creative and moving music settings, Corner Room Music has given us a new way to feel the emotion and power of the psalms.
Adam Wright, chief musician at Cahaba Park Church, AL, and coordinator of Corner Room Music crafted these musical settings for the psalms in order to introduce them to his congregation during a psalm sermon series.
Wright has accomplished a formidable task - setting the ESV-translation psalms directly into music without sounding forced - in fact matching the various moods of the psalms to appropriate musical styles. "Psalm 23," a contemplative piece, sounds like lying in green pastures, beside still waters. "Psalm 13," a classic lament Psalm, appears here as a classic bluegrass blues song - aching with the anguish of the prayer – ‘How long o Lord’? "Psalm 121," with its energetic drive and soaring fiddle lines, rings with optimistic hope.
There are some instances where Wright has identified a key idea to produce a repeating refrain, producing a 21st century version of the selah - a pause to reflect and praise. There are even a few theological statements expressed in music, including the ending of Psalm 13, which like prayer in trying times, ends without resolving.
Hearing the words of the psalms set to music so masterfully performed engaged my heart in a powerful way. "Psalm 42" takes us deeper into the psalm and its inner conflict than 'As the deer' ever did, and with the emotional musical setting, I found myself reliving the psalmist's melancholic reflections – ‘I remember when I used to go in procession to the house of the LORD - and resolution – ‘why are you down cast oh my soul’?
The irregular meter necessary to accommodate the 'just as it appears on the Bible' commitment would make these psalms difficult for congregational singing (although I am tempted to try "Psalm 8"). As devotional or special music though, Psalm Songs volume I is a tremendous resource. I have thoroughly enjoyed it on a musical level and my soul has been fed hearing the Words of the LORD re-expressed in song. I look forward to volume II.
Visit cornerroommusic.com for more information.
Full disclosure: Worship Leader magazine provided me with a copy of this album for review, and this is an extended version of what I wrote for the magazine.