Duncan Wilson – reclaiming psalms

‘Watched Word’ by John Potter, UK

Duncan Wilson writes contemporary versions of psalms calling the on-going project ‘Praise from the heart: The Psalms in liturgical order’.  He intends to make the psalms ‘accessible for all ages, inclusive and relevant, as the Psalms were inspired by people with thoughts and experiences much like ours.’

Additional worship resources by Duncan are found at the end of this post.

Psalms re-claimed by Duncan

Duncan describes his writing in these words:

‘Towards the end of the United Reformed Church in Great Britain’s hymn book, Rejoice and Sing, is a section entitled Psalms and Canticles. I suspect it is used infrequently except for some well known numbers. Some are elegantly paraphrased, some by recent authors in the form of hymns. Others take the form of ‘metrical psalms’ which could as well be spoken as sung since they are set out for responsive chanting. But in many cases their language is somewhat archaic, at least not very accessible, and is hardly gender inclusive.

‘In trying to reclaim Psalms as a call or opening for worship, I have, for many years, been adapting them with both age and gender in mind for what we generally call ‘family worship’.

‘It seemed to me that the Psalms had a prominent part to play in Reformed worship before ever hymns became current and that they provided a very special resource in sharing with us the thoughts and feelings of people far removed from us by time but not by faith and the experience of life. The Psalms speak to us still.

‘Mine are paraphrases without any claim to skill in translation. I have read and compared many versions not with the aim of finding the most accurate translation but the one most likely to ‘strike a chord’, to resonate with life today, therefore subjective to a degree. So, I have taken some liberties which I trust God forgive.

‘There are, of course, some Psalms which refer to adversaries or certain hostile attitudes in a way which grates with us now and hardly helps to lift up our hearts as we open our worship. These I am guilty of glossing over.

‘This has been a personal and individual task and joy that, week by week, has compelled me to really read and imbibe the text. As I come back to them, I frequently modify them.

‘At the end of the day, the Psalms, like all of holy scripture, are there to inspire, to transcend the words with images of a God who has been trusted to be good, to be a saviour, a haven, a healer, a teacher, a companion, a judge and a shepherd. So, the ultimate aim is to encourage and sustain faith and hope. See what you think.’

Reflections & worship resources by Duncan

In addition to his psalms, Duncan writes reflections and other liturgical items.

Duncan is a retired minister of the United Reformed Church in Great Britain with former ministries in Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham and now living in Banbury.

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