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Music / Kids Praise

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Psalty the Singing Songbook.
In the 1970s, Christian praise leaders Debbie Kerner and Ernie Rettino were making albums of praise music, and decided to try putting an album together specifically for kids. They made it appealing by mixing in some cartoonish sounds with children's church music, creating a cartoon mascot called Psalty the Singing Songbook, and by giving each album a narrative.

The first album was released in 1980 by Maranatha! Music, and spawned nine numbered sequels, multiple other special albums, live stage productions, and several released-to-home-video movies.

The most well-known stage productions starring Psalty is Psalty's Christmas Calamity from 1982, Psalty's Funtastic Praise Party from 1993, and Psalty's All New Praise! Party! (with Solomon the Supersonic Salamnder as a Special Guest). Psalty's Christmas Calamity has gained a few local stage productions at a few American churches in recent years.

In 1997, Debbie Kerner and Ernie Rettino attempted to introduce Psalty to the international market with a Dutch version of Funtastic Praise Party. The Dutch version was shown at "The Blessing Den Haag Church" (aka "Capitol Evangelie Centrum" note ) in Hague, Netherlands. This version is very similar to the original American version with the only differences is changing the characters names (except Psalty,) and Psalty, Charity, and Risky Rat played by local Dutch actors, different puppets, and a lion and lamb appearing as Psalty invites the audience on a pretend camping trip.

Kid's Praise' music contains examples of:

  • Adventures in the Bible: The 7th album involves time travel while the kids learn about how praise songs have been written over the centuries, and the first two stops are in Bible times: King David while he was still a shepherd boy playing his harp, and the dedication of Solomon's Temple.
  • All Just a Dream: In the fourth album, an ambitious gospel singer falls asleep while trying to write a song, and has a dream that a conman tricks her into signing a contract that quite literally traps her! She wakes up screaming her lungs out.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: They actually get to listen to the pastor who wrote Amazing Grace preach in the seventh album, which is a time travel plot.
  • An Aesop: Being a Christian work aimed at kids, these are inevitable. The arc aesop of the whole thing is that you have to actually mean it when you're praising God, but numerous other ones appear about determination, problem-solving, kindness, empathy, patience, praying for guidance before making big decisions...the list goes on.
  • Anachronic Order: This is perhaps the most bizarre example of this trope in existence, and applies simultaneously on a meta level and Played for Drama in-universe. Hold on to your hats, folks:
    • In real life, the tenth Kid's Praise album was released before the ninth, and this was intentional.
    • The ninth album was actually a prop and a plot point in the tenth album: Risky Rat stole every copy of the ninth album, and this even happened in the tenth album as a cliffhanger. It was stated during the tenth album that the aesops in the ninth album were about helping kids grow as Christians.
    • When the ninth album was released, the overall plot of the ninth album was chasing Risky Rat to recover...the ninth album. During this adventure, there are songs and lessons about how to grow as a Christian.
    • Risky Rat succeeded in destroying every copy of the ninth album during the ninth album. However, it turns out Rhythm was using a tape recorder to record the whole adventure, including the songs and lessons about growing as a Christian that happened during the adventure, and everything that Rhythm recorded functioned as a replacement for the ninth album!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: This was likely done just for rhyming, but Risky Rat's Villain Song in the tenth album has him describing himself as, and we quote: clever, conniving, a spiritual gangster, a trickster, a charmer, a conman, a prankster!
  • As the Good Book Says...: Again, being a Christian work aimed at kids, Bible quotes are expected to crop up. One song is even a series of Bible quotes, listed in alphabetical order!
  • Baseball Episode: The eighth album is a pretty typical cliche baseball plot from The '80s, where a couple of the Kid's Praise kids fail to make a team, so Psalty encourage them to create their own team called "The Psalters". They lose so spectacularly in their first game, it's hard to believe, but win by a single run in a rematch for reasons that aren't really explained.
  • Batman Gambit: In the ninth album, Risky Rat tricks the protagonists into believing certain apparently-natural events are signs from God, such as all the pillars in some jungle ruins falling in the same direction after an earthquake. In reality, this was special effects simulating an earthquake in an abandoned movie set that happened to be in the general area of Africa where Risky was hiding.
  • Big Eater: Psalty's daughter Harmony in the sixth album has almost an entire song about this, during which she ravishes the potluck table without allowing anyone else to get a share of the food (and she even talks about drinking all the punch so she can use the punch-bowl as a plate for all the food). Psalty is not amused, especially considering Harmony's revelation that she'd earlier told one poverty-stricken kid not to come to the potluck simply because he couldn't afford to contribute a dish to the party.
    Psalty: Harmony, I'm surprised at you. You didn't even wait till we blessed the food! You and I need to have a little talk.
  • Book Ends: Psalty's Christmas Calamity begins with a performance of "Joy To The World", and ends with a reprise of the same song.
  • But Now I Must Go: The end of the second album has Psalty tell the kids that he needs to go visit other kids, but that he'll see them again.
  • Camping Episode: The fifth album, which has the title "Psalty's Camping Adventure".
  • Cannibal Tribe: Discussed in the ninth album; while adventuring in Africa, one of the kids voices a concern that they might run into some, but Psalty tries to assure them that there aren't many cannibals left in modern times. Then they meet a tribe that only eats books.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Risky Rat's Villain Song cements his status this way: he describes himself as a conman, a spiritual gangster, and he's clearly proud of it!
  • Catchphrase: Psalty's catchphrase is "Praise the Lord" when he gets extremely excited, happy, or upbeat. In a 1997 Dutch stage show, he says "Halleujah" which is the original Hebrew word for it.
  • Chaste Toons: Averted: in the Time Skip between the second and third albums, Psalty's managed to get married and have triplets.
  • Christmas Episode: This series actually has two of them: Psalty's Christmas Calamity and Psalty's Family Christmas Singalong.
  • Clip Show: The series had a clip album: Psalty's Singalongathon Maranatha Marathon Hallelujah Jubilee, set up as a TV special where viewers at home could phone in their votes for their favorite songs from the previous albums, which Psalty and the Kids would then perform.
  • Continuity Nod: In the 10th album, Risky Rat reappears. Charity recognizes him, though it takes her a little while to realize exactly who he is.
  • Counterpoint Duet: The 6th album's "Pig Out" song finishes as this, with Harmony singing about pigging out and not caring about others simultaneously with Psalty calling his daughter out on her attitude and behavior in the last chorus.
  • Credits Gag: The credits for the Direct-to-DVD Psalty's Salvation Celebration includes a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, apropos of nothing.
  • Crossover The second live show Psalty's All New Praise Party! Two! has Psalty encountering Solomon the Supersonic Salamnder when they travel to a ruins of an ancient city. Solomon was also created by Debby Kerner and Ernie Rettino with the character originating in a series of Christian picture books.
  • Did Not Think This Through: The seventh album begins with two separate instances of this trope in action:
    • First, Psalty agreed to a history-of-hymns project that would take weeks of research, and would be due in two days. He even admits that he agreed without realizing how long it would take.
    • Second, he tries to invent a machine that stretches time to allow himself and the kids to do those weeks of research in under 24 hours. However, he shows it to the kids before he tests it, and kids will be kids...
  • Eccentric Artist: Psalty and the kids are mistaken for this while time-travelling:
    Brother Fred: What're we gonna do, Brother Ted? The musicians haven't shown up yet!
    Brother Ted: I don't know, Brother Fred, but there are five hundred people in that tent, waiting for the service to start!
    (Time-travellers appear)
    Brother Fred: What's that?!
    Brother Ted: I don't know! They're very different-looking...
    Brother Fred: Then they must be the musicians! Hurry up! Hurry up, now, you're late!
  • Edible Theme Naming: The anthropomorphic mouse choir from the fourth album are all named after different kinds of cheese.
  • Epic Fail: The eighth album is a typical 80s baseball story, except that the kids' first game has them lose to their rivals by over 40 points without scoring a single run, themselves.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Risky Rat easily fits the trope in his appearances; speaking in a very over-the-top manner an emphasizing every emotion!
  • Foil: Harmony and Jimmy. The second time Harmony spun the globe, Jimmy showed up due to his need for food — and the second time Jimmy spun the globe, Harmony showed up due to her need for a change of heart.
  • For the Evulz: Risky Rat's motivations seem to decay into this over time; while he still describes himelf as a Con Man in later albums, he seems to want to keep kids from knowing or praising God...simply because.
  • Foreshadowing: Early in the sixth album, the kids express confusion when Psalty's newly-invented Psaltyscope (a globe that shows live images of people in different countries across the planet) shows a local neighborhood boy whose family is in poverty, under their reasoning that he's not from the other side of the world. Psalty then explains that there are people with needs who live as close as their own neighborhood, or even in their own homes. At the very end of the album, the Psaltyscope shows an image of Psalty's own daughter Harmony, who's in need of a change of heart and mindset.
  • Funny Animal: Charity Churchmouse is simultaneously a mouse and a gospel singer. The churchmouse choir and Risky Rat also qualify, being covered with fur and being otherwise practically interchangeable with humans.
  • Fun with Homophones: It takes them until the ninth album to do this, but they finally make a pun about Psalty tasting terrible because he's got too much salt. The context is that there are cannibals who only eat books who want to eat Psalty.
  • Furry Reminder: Technically it's for an anthropomorphic book and not an anthropomorphic animal, but there are numerous reminders in the albums that Psalty and his family are books, e.g. talking about book covers instead of about clothes, turning Psalty's pages in preparation for a song, etc.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Psalty is an inventor as well as a praise leader, having invented a vehicle made of musical instruments, surveillance equipment that shows people in spiritual need, and even managing to invent a time machine by accident!
  • God Is Good: Par for the course in a Christian work, but whenever God makes an appearance and speaks to Psalty directly, He's invariably understanding and kind.
  • God Was My Co-Pilot: God appears in one Christmas album and explicitly tells Psalty that the apparently-magical music that accompanies his songs is actually God's own doing.
  • Gospel Revival Number: "God is Great" from the fifth album.
  • Helping Would Be Kill Stealing: At one point in the fifth album (i.e. the camping trip), two boys have difficulty putting their tent up, and ask Psalty to do it for them. Psalty tells the kids that the challenge is their opportunity to grow, but he does give them some general problem-solving strategy tips.
  • Help Yourself in the Future: The last stop Psalty and the kids make before getting back to the present is in the 1950s when Psalty was himself young. The adult Psalty helps to inspire him, and they share a duet of the hymn "Take My Life and Let It Be".
  • Horrible Camping Trip: From the kids' perspective, this is subverted in the 5th album. They get tired and hot from all the uphill hiking, and two kids get lost at night, but it's really only their attitude that gets in the way of having fun, and Psalty's well aware of this and keeps encouraging the kids so that they will have fun and grow from the experience.
  • Humans Are Flawed: It's not uncommon for characters (even Psalty himself!) to display flaws, such as selfishness, lack of empathy, or not having their priorities straight. How they and those around them deal with those flaws is a common recurring theme.
  • Impossible Thief: Risky Rat, the series' go-to villain, managed to steal every copy of the ninth album. Psalty called the churches and bookstores to see if any copies were anywhere, but there were absolutely none left: somehow Risky got them all in a very short time.
    • The video version changes this slightly to where Risky steals the just finished master tapes, presumably before any copies could have been made; which would be somewhat more plausible.
  • In Mysterious Ways:
    • In some albums, God directly intervenes or speaks to Psalty when Psalty is at a particularly low point, but in the ninth album, God provides a means of replacing the missing album that Risky Rat stole, which only happened because of the ninth album's adventure in the first place!
    • During the Time Travel plot of the seventh album, Psalty and the kids appear in a few places and times where having a bunch of singing kids and a supernatural One-Man Band like Psalty would actually be helpful! These include a tent meeting where the musicians never showed up, a music printer who just modified a song and wanted to see how it sounded, and meeting Psalty himself when he was a child.
  • It's All About Me: In the sixth album, Harmony has this attitude—even having a borderline Villain Song about it! She gets thoroughly called out on it and eventually grows out of it.
  • Jabba Table Manners: One of the catchiest songs in the whole series is a non-praise, plot-related song bordering on a Villain Song where Psalty's daughter Harmony makes an absolute pig of herself at a potluck to the tune of Tarantella Napoletana.
  • Jobless Parent Drama: The sixth album has a child whose father lost his job, and his family was having difficulty affording food.
  • Kick the Dog: In the sixth album, Harmony told a poor boy that he wasn't allowed to come to a potluck because his family couldn't afford to send him in with any food. She was promptly called out on this behavior by her father, Psalty, and he sent Rhythm and another boy to go bring him over.
  • Kids' Wilderness Epic: The fifth album has shades of this; the kids are hiking up a mountain to go camping, and throughout the narrative, the kids have a lot of difficulties: tents are hard to set up, hiking is hot, sweaty work, and when it gets dark, two of the kids get lost when they disobey Psalty's instructions to stay on the trail.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Probably because the target audience was young children, the series didn't really indulge in this much until later installments: in the ninth album, Psalty's pet dog is piloting the plane they're flying in. At first, Psalty was horrified, until he was reminded that he'd trusted Charity Churchmouse to pilot the plane before that...
  • Large Ham: It's clear there were real child voice actors, and they tended to overact in some of the earlier albums, especially when they're supposed to be excited about something.
  • Left the Background Music On: In the third albumnote , Rhythm has a habit of getting carried away playing drum solos...between songs rather than during them. If Psalty weren't asking his son to turn it down, you might not guess that those solos weren't intended to be one of the songs.
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: From "The Wa Wa Song":
    On days when trials come
    And my heart goes clippity-ping
    I’m glad for Jesus Christ
    And that He taught me how to sing
  • Made a Slave: Charity Churchmouse has a nightmare where she gets tricked into signing a contract that essentially enslaves her to Risky Rat.
  • Magical Realism: The world mostly resembles ours — aside from the existence of sentient books, anthropomorphic rodents, several other anthropomorphic animals, and a speech-impaired dog.
  • Magitek: Psalty's Songmobile invention from the fourth album is a vehicle made of musical instruments, and since it only works properly if its user is praising God from his or her heart and makes ugly noises if it the user isn't, it's implied that the vehicle is a theurgistic variant of this.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: In the seventh album, Psalty time-travels himself and the kids to an 1820 tent meeting. The tent meeting's organizers were expecting musicians, but the musicians never showed up; instead, when Psalty and the kids appeared, the organizers thought they were the musicians!
  • Musical Theme Naming: Psalty's "booklet" triplets: Harmony, Melody, and Rhythm.
  • Nice Mice: The anthropomorphic variety of this appears in the fourth album: there are a few churchmice forming a church's choir, and Charity Churchmouse becomes a recurring character.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Nose-It-All's voice is based on Ed Wynn, best-known as the voice of The Mad Hatter from Disney's Alice in Wonderland.
  • No Antagonist: More albums than not have no actual villain—-often there are characters who need to learn a lesson or two, but no actively malicious characters. When they need an antagonist, Risky Rat fills in.
  • One-Man Band: In a supernatural way, Psalty the Singing Songbook himself qualifies, as musical song accompaniments spontaneously start around him when kids near him praise The Lord. A straighter example of this is his Songmobile, a vehicle made of musical instruments, but even that still requires the user to be praising God for it to work, and interestingly, Psalty said the Songmobile was designed primarily to help write songs; actually performing them is a secondary purpose.
  • Plot Technology: Psalty manages to invent surveillance equipment that allows the kids to see people in need (spiritual or physical) and invents a time machine by accident. In the ninth album, a Super Prototype plane that the U.S. Air Force helps him put together is also at his disposal!
  • Real After All: The series' only villain is a con-artist called Risky Rat. He first appears in a dream where he offers Charity Churchmouse a contract allegedy to make her a star, but that actually makes her a slave, but then later he appears as a real character outside of anyone's dream. No one really comments on the fact that he first appeared in a dream, though.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Psalty himself whenever he acts as an authority. In one of the Li'l Praisers videos, it begins raining outisde, and Psalty uses that as a song cue for the song about the Wise Man and the Foolish Man, and he has the kids put on their raincoats. One kid points out that they're indoors, and while other adults might scold the kid for questioning orders, Psalty just explains that they're costumes.
    • God as well: at times, even Psalty makes mistakes, but every time God intervenes, He's understanding and forgiving.
  • Religious Edutainment: Very specifically created to teach kids about the Christian faith.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Psalty's wife, Psaltina, has the infrequently-used ability to do this on-demand. Probably because she's an anthropomorphic poetry book.
  • Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue...: Again, Psalty's wife, Psaltina, provides us with this from the third album:
    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Until I met Psalty
    I was blue, too!
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Rhonda from the Direct to Video special Psalty's Salvation Celebration is like this in her first scene, sounding like she stuck her dialogue into an internet thesaurus translator. Thankfully, this is toned down in all her following scenes.
    "We'll be villaging with our father over the summer respite."
  • Sibling Rivalry: Melody and Harmony, two of Psalty's triplets, argue a bit in the third album about whose musical part is more difficult.
  • Smooth-Talking Talent Agent: Risky Rat, in his first appearance, is essentially this crossed with being a Con Man: he smooth-talks Charity Churchmouse into signing a contract that literally traps her and has her Made a Slave. Good thing that was All Just a Dream!
    • The video version of "Psalty's Salvation Celebration" has Risky reprise this gambit by posing as a talent agent named Ricky Rasmussennote  in an attempt to dupe Shelly Barnes into signing with him.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Blooper is Psalty's pet dog, and is a lot like Scooby-Doo, to the point where his barks at times are intelligible speech to the other characters.
  • She's a Man in Japan: In the original American version of Psalty's Funtastic Praise Party, Woofer the Praise Box is a male. In the Dutch version of the show, Woofer is a female but keeps the deep voice.
  • Stable Time Loop: During a time travel plot in the seventh album, he meets himself as a child and helps inspire him a little to become the praise leader he is as an adult!
  • Start My Own: In the Baseball Episode (album number 8), two of the Kids Praise kids try out for a baseball team called The Bulldogs, but don't make the team. When they tell Psalty their woes, Psalty's answer is to start his own baseball team, called, of all things, The Psalters.
  • Technobabble: The time machine in the seventh album inevitably brought this on, with Psalty talking about an "over-under-inside-out power drive" at one point.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: This being a musical album, numerous praise songs are cued this way: Arky Arky or the Wise Man and the Foolish Man when it begins to rain, or a prayer thanking God triggering The Butterfly Song are just a few examples.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the ninth album, Risky Rat manages to reach a volcano in Africa and hurl every copy of the stolen album in before Psalty and the kids can catch up to him and stop him. Subverted when they accidentally manage to record songs and experiences they went through while trying to catch Risky that provide the same kind of lessons that were on the album that Risky stole, providing a replacement for the stolen album!
  • The Barnum: Risky Rat is characterized as a Con Man, and even describes himself as one in his Villain Song. He fits this subtrope because in his first appearance, he was appealing to Charity Churchmouse's ambition to try to enslave her, with the implication that it's to make money off her singing.
  • Thunder Equals Downpour: In the second album, the kids get caught in the rain with next to no warning, with thunder immediately followed by rain. This cues the Arky Arky number.
  • Time Machine: Psalty managed to invent a Time Machine by accident in the seventh album. He'd wanted to invent a machine that stretches time, to give the kids the time they needed to perform weeks of research for a project that was due the following day. He showed his "Take Your Time Machine" to the kids without testing it first, which led to Adventures in the Bible.
  • Time Skip: Apparently at least a few years were between the second an third albums, given that Psalty both got married and had triplets who had become more than old enough to speak in the intervening time. The third album begins with the kids decorating a barn for a welcome back party for Psalty.
  • Time-Travellers Are Spies: The seventh album involves two brief Adventures in the Bible: one visit to King David while he was still a shepherd boy, and another to the dedication of Solomon's Temple. Both times, the kids are mistaken for enemy spies, either requiring Psalty to explain, or requiring them to time-travel out of there before being attacked!
  • Trapped in the Past: In the seventh album, the time machine runs out of energy, threatening this outcome. It's narrowly averted with a solar watch.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Averted. Psalty's baseball team in the eighth album loses spectacularly in their first game, though after more practice they manage to win by a single run in a (much more believable) rematch.
  • Villain Song: Most of the songs are praising God, a few have nothing to do with God or religion and are simply plot-related, and a couple are actually sung by the villain, Risky Rat.
  • Visual Pun: In Psalty's Singalongathon Maranatha Marathon Hallelujah Jubilee, Psalty's wife trips on a bucket that was left on stage. The bucket's purpose: helping the kids carry a tune.
  • What Does This Button Do?: Said word-for-word when a little girl named Hanna is checking out a machine Psalty invented that was supposed to stretch time. Turns out the machine travels through time instead; they find out after she pushes it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Harmony makes a pig of herself at the potluck in the sixth album, pushing the other kids aside while she does so and also telling a poor boy whose family couldn't afford to send him with any food that he couldn't come to the potluck. Psalty doesn't wait for her song to be over; he kicks off the second verse calling her out on her behavior, and the final chorus turns into a duet.
  • Who Is Driving?: Psalty and the kids are on a plane, trying to find Risky Rat, and Charity Churchmouse tells them she's pinpointed the rat's exact location. After hearing where he is, Psalty realizes that Charity was the one flying the plane. But Charity assures him it's all right, since Blooper, Psalty's pet dog, took over.
    Psalty: My dog is flying the plane?!
    Charity: I'm a mouse, what's the difference?
  • You Dirty Rat!: Risky Rat is, you guessed it, an anthropomorphic rat, a self-described Con Man, and the series' go-to antagonist.
  • You Won't Like How I Taste: In the 9th album, Psalty and the kids encounter a tribe of bookibals who plan on eating the main character. One of the kids tries to dissuade them by pointing out Psalty's name is indicative of how he'll taste.

Alternative Title(s): Psalty The Singing Songbook