In 1964 a new church was founded in St. Catharines, Ontario; its name was the Trinity Christian Reformed Church. By God’s grace, this flock grew into a large and thriving congregation, and in 1989, Trinity celebrated its 25th anniversary. Along with its other celebrations, the church produced its own complete music recording. With masterful instrumentation by Stuart Laughton on the trumpet and Christiaan Teeuwsen on the organ, this album shone in its Baroque selections. The choir and children contributed a variety of psalms and hymns, and the congregational singing was extraordinary. (“Trinity always sang well,” one of the church’s former ministers told me.) The entire album was produced on cassette tape by Audiocraft Productions/Crescendo Records.
Another twenty years or so passed. Trinity Christian Reformed Church became Trinity Orthodox Reformed Church and eventually joined the United Reformed Churches in North America. Thankfully, the little cassette tape named “Songs of Praise” survived along with the congregation. In the fall of 2012, a Canadian friend sent me a copy of the cassette, and I received permission from Trinity to digitize it.
That brings us to today’s Featured Recording here on URC Psalmody. I’ve chosen the Genevan arrangement of Psalm 98, “Sing, Sing a New Song to Jehovah” (Psalter Hymnal #191), to share with you here, but the entire “Songs of Praise” album is completely digitized and available as a YouTube playlist.
“Sing, Sing a New Song to Jehovah” is an exemplary recording of congregational singing for a variety of reasons. The first thing to notice is Teeuwsen’s confident and complementary organ accompaniment. The tempo is steady, but not over-rigid; the registrations are carefully chosen to balance brilliance with a fuller mellow sound; and the embellishments and harmonic progressions accent the congregational singing rather than distracting from it. As to the singing itself—well, you’ll just have to listen for yourself.
What’s even better is that the rest of the “Songs of Praise” album follows right in line with this selection. Some songs from the 1987 (gray) CRC Psalter Hymnal might be unfamiliar to some listeners, but even these are carefully chosen and beautifully played. My only complaint, if it can be called a complaint, is that Trinity didn’t record more psalm settings. The congregation sings this set so beautifully, I can hardly imagine how a more thorough treatment of the blue Psalter Hymnal would sound!
So, if you’re looking for a rating, I give “Songs of Praise” a hearty five stars. There’s little doubt in my mind that listening to this album will lift your spirits and encourage you to praise God with even louder voices.