I have a new project! It’s called Psalter Commons and I would love your help with it.
I’d like the words of the psalms to be freely available for liturgy and study, but copyright law means the only truly free translations are quite old.
If you have translated or paraphrased a psalm or many psalms, please feel free to add the texts! They don’t need to have music, though if you do have music that’s great too. If you know of existing public domain psalters not listed on the category page please add those, too, preferably with links. Using a wiki is easy and quicky, er, quick.
More background details:
I have often whinged about the lack of freely-accessible, modern-language, metrical settings of psalms available these days. The older psalms available in the public domain are glorious! I do love them, and I’m very glad to have a chance to sing them fairly regularly in London Gallery Quire (though I play the serpent more often than I sing, I still get to read the words as I usually play from a vocal score). However, the language is considered archaic by many, and in some cases the translations are a bit suspect too, compared to modern scholarship.
There are modern metrical translations. Some of them are even included in the Christian Copyright Licensing Initiative (CCLI), which means that for a fee and with a lot of paperwork, we’re allowed to make copies of the words — if we’ve already bought a copy of whatever book they’re in. That’s admirable, but for a small parish like St Andrew’s it’s still a pretty high barrier to use. Why not just release them under a CC-BY-SA license and let everyone use them? Then I would be able to write my own musical settings if I wanted to, or set them to existing hymn tunes where appropriate.
There are accessibility difficulties with prose translations, too. The Common Worship Psalter publication terms aren’t too bad for liturgical use but if I want to use that material in a separate piece of music I have to write an ask for permission. The Coverdale psalms which are usually bound with the Book of Common Prayer, and those in the King James Authorised Version of the bible, are commonly thought to be in the public domain, but in the UK they’re actually under strange special copyright laws which mean that, again, I would need to ask for permission to use them.
So, I was having my usual moan and a friend offered to set up and host a wiki. It seemed like a better idea than just whingeing, so I said yes.
I hope that Psalter Commons will eventually become a valuable resource for anyone interested in the psalms for study and liturgical purposes. It will take a lot more work than I could do myself, which is why a wiki makes so much sense — now others who are interested can join in. Please do, and please send this page to others who might be interested.