I have some confessions to make. I browse Facebook a lot, perhaps too much. I study how other churches and denominations use this ultra-popular form of social media. I look particularly often at the beautifully-maintained Facebook page of our brethren in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. I look at the equally sleek page of their songbook, The Book of Psalms for Worship. And I mutter to myself, “They have it all.”
The Book of Psalms for Worship comes in regular, large-print, spiral-bound, digital, slim, mini, and slim-mini editions—in a dazzling array of colors. It’s hard enough to find a pocket edition of the Psalter Hymnal. And that just comes in blue.
Crown & Covenant, the RPCNA’s publishing house, provides a host of CD recordings and MP3 downloads from their songbook; they even provide a free “Psalm of the Month” download. Some similar resources exist for the Psalter Hymnal, but they are few and far between—and usually difficult to obtain.
As if that weren’t enough, Crown & Covenant also maintains a website called Psalter.org, which contains a searchable, sortable database of tunes for three different psalters. Our primitive “Psalter Hymnal Resource Library” here on URC Psalmody doesn’t even come close to that level.
To top it all off, The Book of Psalms for Worship is available on apps for both iPhone and Android. Could psalm-singing get any more up-to-date than that?
In summary, I want to heartily commend Crown & Covenant, and the RPCNA, for providing all of these opportunities to foster a robust tradition of psalmody in the 21st century. But I also take their work as a friendly challenge: How can we jumpstart the process of building an equally solid online presence for the Psalter Hymnal, and later for the new URC/OPC joint songbook?
A logical step in that direction, small but hopefully significant, was the creation of a Facebook page for the Psalter Hymnal. So that’s exactly what I did last month. The blue 1959/1976 CRC Psalter Hymnal now has a visible, searchable, and interactive presence online.
Now, as you probably know, Facebook is driven by popularity. That’s where you come in. Here’s how to get the most from the Psalter Hymnal’s Facebook page:
- You can (and I would encourage you to) “like” the Facebook page. This will (1) increase the Psalter Hymnal’s overall “ranking” on Facebook, (2) show the page to your friends, and (3) give you the option of receiving notifications when something is posted on the page. (These notifications aren’t annoying, either—I subscribe to the Facebook pages of a few dozen URC’s, for instance, and their posts just appear along with everything else in my News Feed.)
- You can add the Psalter Hymnal to your personal Favorites page. It fits nicely under the “Books” category—another way of sharing your interests with your friends.
- You can share the Facebook page with all your friends or just a specific person. This incorporates a more personal element and encourages others to “like and share” the Psalter Hymnal on Facebook as well.
- Finally, you can interact with fellow Facebookers on the Psalter Hymnal’s page. I try to post an interesting quote, picture, or discussion question every week or so. If you’re comfortable starting musical conversations with people you’ve never met before, this can be exciting!
Starting a Facebook page for the Psalter Hymnal has been a step into yet another parcel of new territory, but through it I hope we can build a greater online awareness about this songbook and the riches it contains—and prepare the way for the forthcoming URC/OPC joint project. And maybe—someday—we can even catch up to our Scottish brethren.