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Necessary songs

The case for singing the entire Psalter

When I asked my dad what songs he sang in church during the war, he explained that with his native Netherlands under Nazi occupation, worshipers couldn’t sing anything that smacked of nationalism—nothing that would undermine the powerful oppressors. Corrie ten Boom, famed author of The Hiding Place, wrote about her brother’s imprisonment for intoning the national anthem on the organ after a church service. But in my father’s conservative Calvinist congregation, this was not an issue. They would not think of singing the national anthem in the liturgy. They would not even sing hymns. They stuck to psalms sung to the Genevan tunes that had been handed down by John Calvin. The Nazis saw the church’s Psalter as innocuous. Little did they know.


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