Well, like everything else new to the congregation…incorporate slowly. We started a few years ago to try to include Psalms in our corporate gatherings and did so slowly. Gradually. We built up to what we experienced a year ago in our morning gathering (The entire musical portion of the service was singing a long Psalm congregationally). Let me share 3 ways we tried slowly to shepherd our church to see the value in Psalm singing.
1) Teach about Paul’s instruction to sing Psalms
Paul writes to the Colossians and Ephesians and instructs them to sing, “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another” (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Regardless how you interpret this instruction, the Psalms play some role in the corporate gathering of the church. Teach from the pulpit on it. Preach a sermon on these passages. Allow the word to form a desire in your people to sing Psalms because it is commanded.
2) Have someone sing a Psalm in the service
If you have a moment in the service where a song is sung by someone and it is not congregational, we found a Psalm is an excellent option to insert there. Instead of the typical, “entertainment solo” have someone sing a Psalm and invite your people to open their Bibles to that Psalm and follow along as it is sung. This was impactful in our services and exposed our folks to Psalm singing without asking them to try to sing…yet.
3) Sing Psalms put to familiar tunes
When it is time to involve the congregation, find Psalms that are written to musical tunes that are familiar to your congregation. You will probably find some in your hymnal you use, or there are other resources that offer this kind of music. We sing Psalms that are to the tunes of many well-known, classic hymns. One of the things that scare most people from singing Psalms is how taxing it is to try to learn a new tune to a lot of new words in a song. Eliminate one and you will find that a great help.
These 3 things gradually incorporated over the course of a few years were essential to our people growing to love the Psalms, both in hearing them read and sung. May they serve you in some fashion as you consider the best and most helpful way to incorporate them into your corporate gatherings.