Introduction to the book, How I Praise You! 150 Little Psalms in Song

This book began at Vacation Bible School when a fellow teacher hurriedly composed a tune to help the sixth graders learn a Bible verse. 100% of the group learned the verse and still remembered it a week later!

That first feeling of amazement at the power of music for praising God and remembering words in the Bible led me to begin combining music with Biblical lyrics. Although written for children, all ages can use these songs for learning Bible verses, progressing in music lessons, and praising God.

The first step I took in compiling the music was to read each Psalm in dozens of versions of the Bible. I settled on using eight versions with simple language patterns. For each Psalm I selected the verses that:

    (1) would be easily understood by children
    (2) contained important spiritual truths to learn
    (3) would be rhythmical in structure and sound
Next I wrote original tunes for some of the Psalms and matched the remaining Psalms with existing melodies that were familiar, fun to sing, and appropriate for the text. I tried to provide a wide assortment of key signatures while keeping the songs in a singing range that preschool children through adults could enjoy. Musical scope includes adaptations or variations of spirituals, folk songs, rounds, nursery rhyme tunes, traditional melodies, game songs, camp songs, carols, and hymns in the public domain.

On each song you will find a suggested tempo speed (corresponding to the number on a metronome); you may adjust this speed according to your needs. The abbreviation "var." at the top of each song means "variation" and was used to save space. The complete text of the Bible verse(s) is printed at the bottom of each song. (A collection of the book's song lyrics is found on this website only, not in the book, under praises.) A brief reference to the Psalm verse(s) is repeated at the top, right above the tempo number. All melodies are written or adapted by Donna Moss. All piano arrangements are original and written by Nancy Aasland and/or Donna Moss. All guitar chords are selected by Nancy Aasland.

Other time-saving helps include a table of contents with titles and page numbers of all songs, a chart listing all Bible versions and verses, a summary of song types, and a subject index; for example, if you are trying to find out which Psalm songs mention horses, you will find the answer here as Psalms 20 and 32.

Some of the most personal words in the Bible are found in the book of Psalms. They describe heartfelt emotions of anger, joy, confusion, love, trust, hatred, fear, and faith. Writers of the 150 Psalms (David, Asaph, the Sons of Korah, Solomon, Ethan, Moses, and others) were people who spoke, prayed, and cried to God. They trusted God with deep feelings and needs. They also trusted in God's power to help them. Psalms beginning with sorrow (similar to songs written in minor keys) often end with hopeful outbursts of praise (similar to majestic oratorios). The result is a collection of poetry that makes us want to sing.

The Book of Psalms was the hymnal for the Jewish people. We have a record of the names of some of the tunes used in singing the Psalms. At the time when the book of Psalms was written (around 1000 B.C.), these titles were noted:

Just as Old Testament congregations sang the Psalms to the traditional tunes of their day, adults and children can praise God together as familiar tunes and Biblical text are interwoven in these songs. I pray this book will be a vehicle for families, individuals, schools, youth groups, and churches to worship God.

Donna Moss
1998

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