Many in the church have forgotten the Psalms. They may still be read, but the rich history of using them as the backbone of Christian worship (from the earliest days of the church until the 19th century) is unknown. For some the thought of praying or singing the Psalms, alone or with others, is entirely foreign. In this we are out of step with our forebears in the faith; we are an oddity in the history of the church and duly suffer for it.
Drawn by the rich spiritual depth produced in so many who have invested themselves in the Psalms, Forgotten Songs seeks to reclaim the content in various areas of worship. This book first examines biblical and historical foundations for the use of the Psalms in worship. The Old Testament and New Testament are revisited noting the nature and purpose of the Psalms and how they were used. Examples of the Psalms being employed by the Church Fathers and throughout the Reformation are also explored
The second section of the book examines specific ways of using the Psalms in our worship today. These aren’t abstract ideas or suggestions but are examples from the personal and corporate lives of individuals who have been significantly impacted by the Psalms. From group singing of the Psalms, to praying Psalms publicly and privately, to pastoral care and the place of lament, Forgotten Songs will help others remember to actively use the Psalms in their own worship lives, individually and corporately.
Contributors include such academicians and authors as Craig A. Blaising, Douglas Bond, Randall Bush, Jack Collins, Chad Davis, J. Michael Garrett, James H. Grant, Jr., James Richard Joiner, Ray Ortlund, Leland Ryken, Calvin Seerveld, Justin Wainscott, and John D. Witvliet along with editors Ray Van Neste and C. Richard Wells.
“Most Christians I know love the book of Psalms: these songs give voice to a wide range of human emotions and also speak to us clearly of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet too often we neglect the psalms in terms of that for which they were originally intended: the corporate praise of the Lord God. This collection of thoughtful, pastoral and irenic articles is designed to encourage the church once again to think about how to integrate God's own book of hymns and prayers into the public worship of the church. Highly recommended.”—Carl R Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, PA
“For centuries the Psalms have been largely neglected in the church with few resources available to recover them. You hold in your hand one of the finest modern manuals assembled to recover the Psalms in your local church. Richard Wells and Ray Van Neste have called together an all-star cast to instruct us in the biblical use of the Psalms and to demonstrate how wisely to put them into practice. Every pastor, music leader, and preparer of the corporate gatherings in the local church must carefully read this book and implement their wise and biblical strategies.”—Brian Croft, Senior Pastor, Auburndale Baptist Church
“Don't we wish, pastors, that the mouths of our people were filled with robust prayer? That their homes echoed not only with sounds of television and iPods but of singing to the Lord? That the fullness of their private worship overflowed into our corporate gatherings? That our public worship would in turn enliven their personal devotion? Reading Forgotten Songs of God has inspired me to believe that it's possible. I am the reason for this book. Perhaps you are too. If, like me, you have underestimated the value of the Psalms in giving your people divine words to sing and pray, and in shaping their thoughts and feelings about God and his world, you need this book. The Psalms weren't just for Israel. In Christ they are for the church, waiting to be sung and prayed and preached by a new generation of worshipers. They are waiting to be remembered.”—David King, Senior Pastor, Concord Baptist Church, Chattanooga, TN
“A generation ago James Smart wrote a book about the mainline churches entitled, The Strange Silence of the Bible in the Church. A generation later for different reasons the same has become true in evangelical worship services. This book is a precious resource to help the church recover the invaluable prayers and songs that God has given his people to address Him. To an often superficial church that hides its pain, struggle and doubt on the one hand, and fails to see the majesty and greatness of God on the other, Forgotten Songs can help churches and individual believers reclaim a strong dose of Biblical Reality. For future courses on the Psalms that I teach this book will be required reading!”—Stephen G. Dempster, Professor of Religious Studies, Crandall University
“While liturgical churches use the psalms regularly, many Baptist, Pentecostal, and other free church traditions do not. The impressive team of experts in this volume make the case that the Psalms enrich preaching, prayers, singing, and Christian living for every branch of Christianity. This volume is biblically sound and theologically rich, so it is practical to the core. Wells and Van Neste are to be commended for showing new audiences the great value of the Bible's model songs and prayers.”—Paul House, Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School of Samford University
“Forgotten Songs of God: Reclaiming the Psalms for Christian Worship is a timely expression of timeless truths. Some readers will discover truths they did not know; other readers will remember truths they had almost forgotten; and still others will rejoice that notice has been taken again of how important the Psalms are in Christian worship, both public and private. All readers will be revived by this refreshing word about the Psalms of the faith. Here is an important book to help us recover the ancient words, still ever new.”—Michael Travers, Professor of English and Senior Fellow of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“This book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the Psalms. Its authors bring together many perspectives, but are united in their conviction that the rediscovery of the Psalter encourages the ancient practice of living in the Psalms, the reclamation of canonical associations, the enrichment of coming into the presence of God with prayer and praise, and the renewal of congregational life. The essays lead the readers in a pilgrimage that takes them from the Old Testament to the New Testament, to the usage and interpretation of the Psalms in the Early Church and the era of the Reformation, and to our modern/post-modern context. The book includes various approaches to the use of the Psalms. I expect that this volume will encourage many to reassess their own theological, liturgical, and devotional practices.”—Willem A. VanGemeren, Professor of Old Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“At a time when the Psalms and most of the great hymns of the 18th and 19th centuries are largely neglected in modern congregational worship, this book is a much needed wake-up call. Wells and Van Neste have edited a collection of excellent essays which remind us of the prominent place the Psalms have had for Christians from New Testament times onward. The authors urge us to consider once again the spiritual benefits of focusing on the Psalms, and give practical guidance for their recovery in church life.”—Graeme Goldsworthy, Visiting lecturer in Hermeneutics, Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia
“Saint Augustine once called the Psalter "the Old Testament in microcosm." All of the riches of the Scriptures filled in the mine of praise, prophecy and poetry that is the Psalter. These riches, however, need to be brought to the light of day so they might adorn the life of the Christian. This powerful edited volume by Ray Van Neste and Richard Wells does just that. It brings the wealth of the Psalms to the life of the church: to be sung, read, and practiced. No doubt this is a volume that will be used in colleges and seminaries in courses on the Psalter.”—Heath A. Thomas, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“The Psalms, John Donne once said, are 'the manna of the church.' They provide spiritual nurture throughout the wilderness of life for the people of God, expressing the full range of human hope, despair, confession, praise, and yearning for the living God. This collection of superb essays helps us to join our hearts with all the saints through the ages who have found in the inspired words of the Psalter a pathway into the heart of God.”—Timothy George, Founding Dean of Beeson Divinity School