Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming the Psalms for Christian Worship by C. Richard Wells & Ray Van Neste, editors (B&H Publishing Group)
The first book written by and printed in America was a psalter titled The Bay Psalm Book, published in 1640. American Christians should give serious attention to this collection of essays, Forgotten Songs, intended to challenge the current generation to take a renewed interest in the purpose and usage of the Psalms. The editors and a variety of authors emphasize numerous ways the vast hidden treasures of the book of Psalms can be utilized.
Naming a psalter simply a “songbook” often results in limiting the importance of other usages of the book of Psalms. By reading and/or singing the whole book of Psalms, one is celebrating the story of God’s people; what the Jewish experience was becomes our own. Forgotten Songs includes many aspects of how the Christian can use the Psalms but centers on two general areas: (1) biblical and historical foundations and (2) practice—the practical use of Psalms in ministry.
Not only do the 13 chapters inspire the practice of using the Psalms in Christian worship, study and ministry, but also this volume includes an excellent and complete bibliographical essay of “Resources for the Psalms in the Life of the Church.” A person interested in a deeper study of the subject certainly would appreciate this additional help. The reader of Forgotten Songs will obtain a wealth of ideas of how the Psalms can benefit the Christian’s life.
Ed Spann, retired dean
College of Fine Arts
Dallas Baptist University
Celtic Devotions: A Guide to Morning and Evening Prayer by Calvin Miller (Formatio)
Readers who rush through the daily devotions in this slim book miss its impact. When read rapidly, some entries seem superficial at worst and redundant at best. Poems and prayers appear unrelated to daily readings from Psalm 119, and the repetition of phrases may prompt hurried readers to say: “Got it. Move on.”
Don’t mistake bite-sized readings for fast food. Take time to chew. Calvin Miller, who died last year, invites readers to enter into the gentle rhythms of Celtic religious devotion. Celtic Christianity emphasizes the Trinity, and almost every prayer and poem reflects that three-fold devotion to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Prayers invite all three Persons of the Trinity into every aspect of life. At the same time, devotions reflect the earthy nature of Celtic life, rooted in the simple pleasures and perilous uncertainty of daily life.
Miller offers a rich assortment of devotions drawn from the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of ancient Gaelic songs, along with other Irish and Welsh poems and prayers, mixed with his own lovely and lyrical offerings.
Slow down and savor.
Ken Camp, managing editor