Psalms for the Spirit
Psalms for the Spirit
Psalms for the Spirit Ep. 21: Fighting Back Against the Storms of Life, with Martin Tel

Psalms for the Spirit Ep. 21: Fighting Back Against the Storms of Life, with Martin Tel

A conversation with the Director of Music at Princeton Theological Seminary

FOR OUR FIRST EPISODE OF SEASON THREE, TODAY'S GUEST is Martin Tel, Director of Music at Princeton Theological Seminary. In his role at the seminary, he directs the choirs, plans and leads music in daily worship, and lectures in the area of church music. Martin was senior editor of the impressive musical compilation “Psalms for All Seasons,” in which he highlights the amazing breadth of genres in which we can sing and use Psalms for worship, prayer and reflection.

Martin and I go way back – and he is a constant for many of us alumni who return over and over to dip into the life of the seminary. Over the decades that I’ve known him, I’ve always admired the way he leads music in the daily chapel services, particularly how he invites students to share the gifts, styles, and expressions they bring with them, and for many of us, the Princeton Seminary Choir is the best choir we will EVER have a chance to sing in. I also had the opportunity to glean insights through his course on the Psalms and receive some coaching and direction on my Celtic Psalms project.

I wanted to talk with Martin as a real expert, steeped in every aspect of the Psalms – from personal to congregational to academic.   In this conversation, which we had in the crisp early autumn of October, we talk about how important it is for each generation to engage with the Psalms in a way that’s meaningful to them, about the Psalms as a form of resistance and protest, about how the Psalms teach us to pray not only our own prayers but others’ prayers as well, and about the uncomfortable truth that if we are among those who benefit from unjust systems, the Psalms might actually be prayed against us. This conversation made me think about the Psalms in a whole new way, and it also reminded me of what I know to be true – that regardless of who we are, where we live, or what our life experiences might be, the Psalms help us fight back against the storms of life.

Most episodes of Psalms for the Spirit feature Celtic Psalms music, but today we have music from Martin Tel himself, and from the Princeton Seminary Choir.

Welcome to Season Three of Psalms for the Spirit.

And whatever it is that brought you here, I’m glad you’re with us.

More about Martin Tel:

Martin Tel is the C. F. Seabrook Director of Music at Princeton Theological Seminary where he directs the seminary choirs, facilitates the music ministry for daily worship, and lectures in the area of church music. He served as senior editor of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship (Faith Alive, 2012). He also served on the editorial committees which produced a new hymnal for the Christian Reformed Church and Reformed Church in America denominations, Lift Up Your Hearts (Faith Alive, 2013) and the Spanish-English bilingual hymnal, Santo, Santo, Santo / Holy, Holy, Holy (GIA, 2019).  


Come, Spirit, Come (Psalm 144)

The Storm is Passing Over (Princeton Seminary Choir)

Dutch children singing Psalm 81

You Have Turned My Sorrow (Psalm 30)

You can find Celtic Psalms' published scores, CDs and mp3s through GIA Music

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Psalms for the Spirit
Psalms for the Spirit
This podcast looks at the connections between spirituality and resilience through the lens of the Biblical Psalms. It explores how the Psalms help people through difficult times – times of personal and collective trauma – through conversations about personal story, field research, and theological reflection from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Listeners might include clergy, seminarians, spiritual directors, hymnwriters, church musicians, mental health practitioners, anyone interested in the intersection between spirituality and lived experience.