Featured Recording: Dunnville Sings

Featured Recording

Although most of our Featured Recordings here on URC Psalmody have focused on particular mechanics or nuances of church music, today’s video is simply for your listening pleasure.  But along with it comes an opportunity for some reflection as well.

Here in the United Reformed Churches in North America, many of our congregations are small, some are constrained to worship in subprime acoustical areas, and a growing number are composed of first-generation churchgoers who are still learning how to use their voices in praise to God.

Especially for these young churches and church plants, the problems associated with establishing good congregational singing are numerous.  Organ or piano accompaniment (or guitar)?  Blue Psalter Hymnal, Book of Psalms for Worship, or some other collection of psalms and hymns?  What about “contemporary music”?

I don’t believe there is a universal answer to any of these particular questions.  Perhaps organ accompaniment, while useful for a large congregation, will prove overpowering and ugly in a small urban sanctuary with a whiny old electronic instrument.  Depending on a church’s background, the songbook of choice may vary as well.  It may even be necessary to use some form of “contemporary music” in a newly reforming congregation for a time.

Despite these widely varying circumstances, however, I believe there is a universal and attainable ideal for good Reformed church music.  Its primary instrument is a congregation of any size that knows how to sing, why to sing, and what to sing.  Its primary material is composed of the psalms and Scriptural songs, whether or not uninspired hymns are included.  Its accompaniment (whether piano, organ, guitar, or some other instrument) serves only to support the singing of the congregation, not to dominate it.  In short, it satisfies all of the requirements of Biblical, sincere, and beautiful worship.

This complex preamble brings us to today’s Featured Recording, which I believe is an excellent example of good church music.  The congregation which provided the recording is one of our own sister churches, in fact: Grace Reformed Church in Dunnville, Ontario.  As a fairly large church with a strong Dutch Reformed base, they use primarily organ for accompaniment and sing out of the blue Psalter Hymnal, like most of our federation.  And they excel at it!

This particular selection, “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” (Psalm 146, Psalter Hymnal #301), is sung with gusto and skillfully accompanied by Scott Lindeboom.  The tempo is not so slow that it drags, but allows ample time to think about the words as they’re sung, while the broadly exultant affect of the psalm is perfectly reflected in the music.

Are there any particular strengths or weaknesses you’d like to point out in this recording?  How would you suggest applying these criteria for good church music to other worship settings?  As always, the comment section is open!


(Click here for last week’s Featured Recording)

5 Responses to “Featured Recording: Dunnville Sings”

  1. 1 Tony Jelsma March 8, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Michael, I don’t know if you’re aware of this but Rev. Theo Lodder is a Canadian Reformed minister who did his D.Min dissertation on the use of musical instruments in worship. I don’t know if anything has been published yet though.

    • 2 Michael Kearney March 8, 2013 at 8:52 am

      I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the name Theo Lodder before, but I’ve not seen or heard of his dissertation. I would be very interested in finding out more, though. Thanks!


  2. 3 Edwin A. Sotto July 29, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Thanks for these wonderful hymns. I attend a small church in Davao City, Philippines where I also teaches the Sunday School and leads in worship. We do not have a copy of the URC Psalmody yet. Is there a chance that we can get used ones. We are also praying for a software which we can connect to our electronic organ and that will just play the hymns from the selection. May the good LORD continue to bless you and your ministry.

    • 4 Michael Kearney August 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Mr. Sotto, you are very welcome! Do you, by any chance, attend Davao Covenant Reformed Church? If so I was at your church a few months ago with The Genevans, the choir in which I sing. It was a blessing to be there.

      I assume you’re asking about the new URC Psalter Hymnal. If so, it hasn’t come out yet; they expect that it will take another three years or so before it is ready. At that time I am sure they will do their best to make it affordable for churches with financial difficulties.

      Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any other information or would like to talk further.

      Blessings in Christ,

      Michael Kearney
      West Sayville URC
      Long Island, New York

  1. 1 Featured Recording: Our Refuge and Our Strength | URC Psalmody Trackback on March 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm

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