After nearly three years, Poor Bishop Hooper’s accidental pandemic project concludes with a new psalter for the church.
The singing of psalms spans thousands of years of church tradition. Today’s songwriters and worship leaders mine these texts for words and inspiration as they craft new songs for the church.
For the past three years, Jesse and Leah Roberts—who perform as the duo Poor Bishop Hooper—have sung every word of every psalm and are hoping to help revive widespread interest in the singing of Scripture.
Their project joins a history of singing psalms that spans centuries, from monastic recitation to contemporary songwriters and worship leaders who mine these texts for words and inspiration.
“We should have songs that are not only upright but holy, that will spur us to pray to God and praise Him, to meditate on His works so as to love Him, to fear Him, to honor Him, and glorify Him,” wrote John Calvin in his preface to the 1543 Geneva Psalter, which guided Reformed churches in the practice of singing unaccompanied metrical psalms.
“Though we look far and wide we will find no better songs nor songs more suitable to that purpose than the Psalms of David.”
For the monk in the medieval monastery, chanting all 150 psalms each week, the psalms “were his daily bread, words always on his lips, the foundation of his life of prayer,” wrote musicologist James Dyer.
Chanting the entire Book of Psalms each week required total devotion, a rhythm of life built for prayer. Releasing an original song based on a chapter in Psalms each week—as Jesse and Leah Roberts have done with their recent EveryPsalm project—required its own kind of creative focus and commitment.
For the past three years, the Psalms have been musical and spiritual sustenance for the Robertses. Since January 2020, they have …