Listening to music can help us in so many ways – from dancing and entertainment to worship and contemplation. One of the noblest uses of music is to focus on “the word of our God [which] endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8). One of the wonderful resources for the Church is a ministry called Psalter Project, who uses well-crafted musical arrangements and word-for-word presentations of the Psalms. We were recently able to talk with the talented director of this ministry, Emily Bateman.
UTR: How did Psalter Project get started and who is involved in this group?
Emily: Towards the end of 2014, my brother Derek and I put together our first demo CD. We grew up singing the psalms and both wanted to make them accessible to a larger audience. He was in seminary and fascinated with Hebrew translation, so he was in charge of the lyrics. I had just graduated with a degree in composition, was struggling with some health issues and wondering what God had for me next. To make a long story short, I was able to connect with Jeremy Casella in Nashville, and he offered to take our little demo and create Psalter Project’s first release, Highways in our Hearts. Since then, some twenty-odd folks have contributed to the songwriting and production of our three CDs. I remain the sole “instigator” & financier, but I welcome all the input I can get!
UTR: What is the purpose and vision of Psalter Project’s ministry?
Emily: Our purpose is to encourage and enable psalm singing! We have two commitments: first, faithful translations. While there are many beautiful and valuable paraphrases of the psalms, our goal with Psalter Project is to sing the very Word of God, no more and no less. Secondly, our desire is to foster community involvement. We want to see ongoing collaboration among all walks of life, personalities and denominations. The psalms are for all of God’s people!
UTR: What is the theme and direction taken in the newest release, Now In Peace?
Emily: Now In Peace is a unique addition to Psalter Project’s catalogue in that the melodies are all traditional lullaby tunes. Consequently, the psalm selections we chose are shorter and themed around children and/or rest. A prime example is “At Rest” (Psalm 131), which talks about trusting the Lord like a little child leans on his mother.
UTR: What do you hope are the things that the listener of any Psalter Project walks away with?
Emily: I hope Psalter Project listeners come away with God’s Word hidden in their heart. The Psalms can be challenging in many ways: sometimes very long, or archaic, or foreign. I hope that singing them helps bring God’s Word closer to our heart and mind. I want to help pave the way for experiencing the blessedness described in Psalm 1: “His delight is in the law of the Lord.”
UTR: What are some meaningful ways that someone can be supportive of your music ministry?
Emily: First and foremost: sing the psalms! The most meaningful way to support Psalter Project’s ministry is by fulfilling it. Secondly, we welcome contributors of every kind – if you want to be part of our next album, whether that’s simply suggesting a psalm you’d like to see put to music, or being an integral part of the songwriting and production, just shoot me an email at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you! Last but not least, you can find us at Patreon and participate, which provides a significant amount of Psalter Project’s funds to be able to keep creating quality new music.
Psalter Project is a community resource for singing the psalms in the 21st century – found online at www.psalterproject.com.