From Heavenly Harmony
Wonder & Wandering
by Ken Myers
For centuries, the singing of the Psalms has been at the heart of the Church's worship. The poetic form of the Psalter, with verses typically in two-line parallelisms, lends itself to antiphonal chanting. Typically, two groups of singers alternate lines of each verse, chanting back and forth in what we sometimes call "responsive" singing. The Gregorian chant repertoire includes a collection of eight short melodic patterns called "psalm tones," each with two phrases, to which any psalm could be chanted. Each of the two phrases in each tone includes some introductory notes (the "intonation"), a single reciting note on which a variable number of syllables may be chanted, and a final pattern of notes called a "cadence."
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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