we ♥ our precentors

Never mind year of the priests, it’s time for year of the precentor.

An appreciative article here, with lots of interesting additional thoughts about the psalms in corporate worship.

8 thoughts on “we ♥ our precentors

  1. Well you learn something new every day – I always thought it must be spelt “presentor”. I had never seen the word written down before.

    Scottish Psalmody is beautiful – will never forget listening to the Walkers in Tain sing – their Dad was a “precentor” at the free church and they had someone to sing all the parts apart from a tenor.


    • Yes absolutely! singing with all the parts is so beautiful when it’s done well! They say that congregational singing would be better if everyone still sang in their families at home.

      Something makes me think it’s something to do with cantor, singing … or something … although open to correction!


      • We have a copy of “Sing Psalms” the new Free church version (not sure if you approve ;-) and the boys like to listen to it when they go to sleep (although I have only learned a small number so far).

        It really works for settling them to sleep! I’m totally with you guys on thinking it is a really good way to learn Scripture when they’re little (John already asks about some of the words) although obviously I am from the using musical instruments school of thought as well. However I also think it teaches a sense of good solid harmony which old great composers would have been proud of it – before we undermined the whole modern system of western harmony ;-)

        Sorry… better stop as I sense a rant coming on!


      • No, i do approve actually! Can hardly imagine many things more cute than your boys going to sleep to the strains of the Bays of Harris in four parts :-)

        And rant away! How well i remember your raptures of delight over harmony and counterpoint in ye olden days — I’m as clueless as ever but you might find some kindred spirits among some of the more musically inclined people that comment here sometimes!


  2. Thanks, not only for that article, but for making me aware of that blog. There’s lots of interesting stuff there. Blogs run by working pastors are usually very interesting, and the Rev. Dow’s is no exception.


  3. The precentor’s role is actually very important, even though it’s obviously not an official position in the church (like elder/deacon). The whole congregation takes part together in listening (actively!) to the sermon, and giving their heart endorsement of the minister’s prayer, and so on, but if you don’t go in for things like reciting the creed as a congregation, then singing is the most tangible opportunity you have for showing your unity and togetherness as a congregation. So a lot hangs on how the precentor and the congregation interact, in terms of how effective or pleasant that joint activity is! Not that there’s a problem with reciting things as a congregation, except that for one reason or another it hasn’t been been done in many congregations, so that in that context the precentor has even more of a responsibility.


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