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Folk Psalms CD Folk Psalms Companion Review by Melissa Cummings

The Farnum Family
PO Box 355
Galena, MO 65656

In the true spirit of Colossians 3:16, the Farnum family has sought to provide a new, fun, clever way for families to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." For their Folk Psalms CD, they selected 12 psalms from The Books of Psalms for Singing and set them to folk tunes (with few lyrical alterations). This CD is a truly effective means of hiding the Word of God in your heart.

The Farnum family band consists of two parents and six children, singing and playing for the edification and enjoyment of others while seeking to encourage others to join in. Banjo, piano, pennywhistle, bass, mandolin, and fiddle combine with their voices in this very professionally produced CD that is sure to get your children tapping their toes and singing along. Using traditional folk tunes from America, Ireland, and Scotland, the Farnums have taken metrical psalms and set them to zippy melodies. Some of the tunes are incredibly familiar, such as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," "Auld Lang Syne," and "The Water Is Wide"; others are less so.

While the CD insert does not include lyrics, it does include Scripture references and tune names. For $25, you can purchase a set that includes the CD as well as the accompanying Folk Psalms Companion songbook, which is a reasonable price for such good quality products. The Companion is an excellent pairing with the CD, especially for an educational setting. Well bound and complete with lovely photography and charming illustrations, the text is easy to read in a fairly large font, and the 8.5 x 11-inch dimensions are perfect for standing well on a piano or music stand. This is a very practical, hands-on book that includes full lyrics and chord progressions (with the exception of the bonus track, "Jesus Loves Me"), tune names, a brief introduction to each psalm text, and a brief introduction to each melody's history. With simple explanations to aid in comprehension of different types of meters as well as references from Matthew Henry's Commentary, the Folk Psalms Companion is thorough and educational. You and your children will learn the definition of "psalm" using two Hebrew terms and two Greek terms, as well as learn the differences between Common Meter, Short Meter, and Long Meter.

It can feel odd to sing sacred psalms to a tune suitable for a barn dance, and it can be difficult to get the well-known lyrics out of your head and replace them with the psalm texts. But the beauty of folk music is that it is music for the people and of the people. Psalms, likewise, are songs for the people and of the people--the people of God. So the underlying principle makes them perfectly suited for one another. While this isn't generally my favorite style of music for singing along, I find this product to be well produced and a worthwhile investment--suitable for any age and competence level as well as any setting or group size. Whether used in the home for pure enjoyment, in Sunday school classes, or as part of a musical curriculum in a school setting, this music is useful for anyone.

Product review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2011