“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” —Psalm 95:2
The Psalms are a treasure trove of theology-laden, emotion-driven songs of praise. Singing them is a way to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16) and live by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18–19). They give us words when our minds and emotions fail us.
I’m thankful that many modern songwriters see the value of singing the Psalms and have recorded music based on them. For your listening and worshipping pleasure, I’ve gathered several contemporary worship albums based on the psalms, some of them even word-for-word renditions. My hope is that these songs would stir your hearts to worship and set your gaze heavenward.
(Note to Amazon Prime members: you have free access to at least 13 of the albums mentioned through Amazon Music!)
I [Shane Heilman] became tantalized by the idea of all the Psalms being set to music, including the essential meaning of every verse, instead of gutting and censoring the Psalms and isolating some verses from their context. I also was intrigued by the idea of making these songs stylistically listenable yet innovative by combining modern, familiar instrumentation with unconventional structure and style – a marriage of King David’s vision with the best qualities of modern worship. There is tremendous power in the spoken Word, and perhaps even more so when sung.
- Starter song: Psalm 22 (Why Have You Forsaken Me?). I enjoyed seeing how this group handled polar opposite emotions of verses 1–21 and 22–31.
- Chord and Lyric sheets
“The Corner Room’s Psalm Songs, provides rich compositions of word-for-word English Standard Version psalms. Yes, this music is intended to help you recite and memorize Scripture. No, it’s not sing-songy or annoying in any way. As with Randall Goodgame’s Slugs and Bugs albums, the memorization happens quite naturally because of the excellence of the music. I’m so grateful when Christians don’t sacrifice good art for the sake of an additional purpose, like hiding God’s word in my heart. The Corner Room has a warm, folk-rock sound heavy on guitars with strings and piano here and there. They reminded me a little of Mumford and Sons, with heavy bluegrass influences. It’s music that you can turn up and sing along to in the car, but also turn down and play during mealtimes.”
- Starter song: Psalm 19
Stored in My Heart’s first offering is Psalms for the Church Vol. 1. The ministry of Stored in My Heart started at Cornerstone Church in Dover, Delaware. This album shares songs based on portions of Psalm 119, with several songs about God allowing affliction to teach us His ways (something that reminds me of what I shared in A Theology of Suffering in a Nutshell).
4. Shane and Shane
I love Shane and Shane’s two albums on the Psalms (Psalms and Psalms Volume 2) and one live album (Psalms Live). They don’t follow each psalm word-for-word but do add key themes to worshipful melodies that will probably become favorites for you as they have for my wife and I.
- Starter song: Psalm 34. (The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir rendition of it below makes me long for heavenly worship!)
5. Robbie Seay Band
The Robbie Seay band is a Houston-based veteran group that you’ve probably heard before (chances are it was their hit “Song of Hope”). They have independently released several albums on the Psalms in their contemporary rock worship style: Psalms, Vol. 1 (EP), Psalms, Vol. 2 (EP), Psalms, Vol. 3 (EP), Psalms (LP).
- Starter song: Psalm 62
6. Matt Searles
Matt Searles is a worship leader from the UK and has several albums based on the Psalms available (From the River to the Ends of the Earth, Tumbling Sky, Now and Not Yet). I enjoy the variety of singers Searles uses (both male and female) as well as how the catchy melodies with profound lyrics get stuck in my head. How many other worship songs share lyrics like this from his song on Psalms 42–43?
// Why is my soul cast down, disturbed within? Sing praise to God and put your hope in Him.//
- Visit MattSearles.org.uk for free sheet music PDFs
- Listen to Matt Searles on Bandcamp
- Starter song: I Lift Up My Eyes (Psalm 121)
7. Sandra McCracken
McCracken has been writing music professionally since her days with Caedmon’s Call. Her Psalms album has a folk rock feel that will calm you as biblical themes and words wash over your soul.
- Read The Gospel Coalition’s interview with McCracken
- Starter song: From the Rising of the Sun (Psalm 113)
8. Keith and Kristyn Getty
My late mother loved the Gettys and always said “Kristyn sings like an angel.” She was right. The Gettys recorded Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern with a start-studded cast at their 2018 Sing! Conference in Nashville. The album features mainly songs and a few other beloved hymns. And hey, who doesn’t love the Gettys?
- Starter song: I Will Wait for You (Psalm 130)
9. Sovereign Grace Music
You’re probably familiar with Sovereign Grace’s music used in many churches today. Sovereign Grace one of my favorite groups—I love that they have so many albums in Spanish! Super-fans will even remember Bob Kauflin’s days in the acapella group Glad. Their offering on the Psalms has been around a while but is another solid addition to their catalog and to this list. (Find their Psalms album on Amazon.)
10. Sons of Korah
This Australian group has been singing the Psalms in their acoustic and multi-ethnic style for years and have many albums available. They take their name from the Levitical musicians who wrote some of the Psalms, not directly from the Korah from “Korah’s Rebellion” in Numbers 16 (although you can see the group’s explanation here!). One thing I like about the approach the Sons of Korah take is that they capture the wide range of emotion expressed in the Psalms: “from lamentation to songs of jubilant praise, from battle cry to benediction, from exclamation of awe and wonder to reflections of tranquillity and perfect wisdom.”
- Starter song: Psalm 91
Other resources on singing the Psalms:
- 10 Reasons Your Church Should Sing Psalms by Keith Getty
- The Book of Psalms for Singing (recommended by Rosaria Butterfield)
- Christopher Ash Teaching Series: Can Christians Sing the Psalms?
- Rosaria Butterfield on why she sings the Psalms
- 8 Ways to Use the Psalms
1. Read the Psalms every day in your home. We started this three years ago, and it has been transformational. We highly recommend Tim Keller’s The Songs of Jesus as a devotional to help you think, pray, and sing to the Lord each day.
2. Fill your homes with the songs of the Psalms—let them fill your minds, hearts, mouths, imaginations, and souls.
3. Read the Psalms every Sunday in your services, using them as calls to worship and getting your whole church to read a psalm, perhaps responsively, if you don’t have liturgy.
4. Pray the Psalms. Use the Psalms to fill your prayers.
5. Sing the Psalms. Try some of these modern psalms, or perhaps older hymns inspired by psalms.