If you haven't got a copy of Psalms for All Seasons yet, you should do. I have been meaning to write a proper review of it for some time. Well, time has defeated me, so here are a few thoughts.
For every single psalm in the Psalter a variety of settings are provided, metrical and relatively simple chants as well as occasionally more challenging choral pieces. The The NRSV text of each psalm is also [presented in a way suitable for responsive reading as well as pointed for modern style psalm tones. A refrain is provided for every chant setting. Occasionally these refrains are from interesting, well-known sources. Psalm 37, for instance works well with the Taize/Berthier chant 'Wait for the Lord'. Even more a psalm prayer is provided for every psalm.
The book ends with simple outlines and music for a fourfold office (Morning, Noon, Evening and Night) as well as a wide variety of settings of the Gospel Canticles. The scripture references for the Revised Common Lectionary and a guide to the use of the psalter in RCL are provided in an appendix. Six general refrains, catching the typical moods or tones of prayer are also provided.Evening Prayer includes a paraphrase of Phos Hilaron by Marty Haugen which is rather stunning; the first verse:
Joyous light of heavenly glory,
loving glow of God's own face,
you who sing creation's story,
shine on every land and race.
Now as evening falls around us,
we shall raise our songs to you.
God of daybreak, God of shadows,
come and light our hearts anew.
One of the more startling and refreshing features for me is the recovery of the imprecatory psalms. I have always found these helpful in facing the sheer randomness of suffering and injustice in the world, and have often prayed: 'O Lord avenging god, avenging God appear'. There is a very sturdy metrical version of psalm 60 by James Hart Brumm; the first two verses:
We are seething in our fury,
anger festers into flame.
We could kill! No judge or jury
would convict or even blame.
Shepherd hear our cries, our furor;
but before you cool and tame,
share our pain,then, in your power
lead us from our hateful aim.
Worthless adversaries hurt us,
with a wrath we did not earn.
Worthless partners all desert us;
God seems distant, silent, stern.
Spirit, hear our cries for vengeance!
Let our indignation burn!
Then come, heal our reckless nature,
lead us from the rash and stern.
Or this, to Kingsfold, by Carol Bechtel:
O when will we see justice done?
When will the righteous win? O speed the day when we can say,
"God judges human sin!"
the venom of the wicked's lies
destroys all in their path.
Their fangs are bared; no one is spared,
and to our cries they're deaf.
The introduction is an excellent guide to the use of the psalms in Christian worship and to the effect created by using each genre. The indices are especially helpful including, unusually, an index of genres and origins. There is also a thematic guide. The detailed performance notes are simple and helpful.
Finally each psalm has a short paragraph of biblical commentary discussing genre, original use etc.
This is a real treasury and i can't think of anything quite like it. For anyone serious about praying the psalms it is an unmissable resource.