Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Psalms Are Songs of Faith - Part 1

I've been reading a section a day of Fr. McBride's Guide to the Bible. It is just enough to make me both review different books of the Bible and think about it's place in the overall scheme of things. Which I think is the point. I was struck by this emphasis on psalms. It is something that our priest has pointed out in Bible study before but I like how this is said. So I'll be sharing it over the next few days.
The Psalms Are Songs of Faith

Psalms 1-150
Sing to the Lord a new song.
Psalm 96:1

For some reason, we don't ordinarily picture a soldier writing Church poetry. But that is exactly what the warrior King David did. He did not write all of the 150 psalms, but so great was his influence on the composition of psalms, that the book of Psalms has borne his name as the author ever since. The psalms are prayers, but people today sometimes find it hard to really think of them that way. Here are some considerations that might be helpful in understanding the psalms.

He Who Sings Prays Twice
St. Augustine says that he who sings prays twice. It is too bad that most peple regard the psalms as a text to be read silently. The psalms are the "songs" of faith: war chants, victory songs, enthronement anthems, hymns about nature. In the shadow of the temple, fraternities of musicians gathered to compose melodies for the psalms.

There has been a revival in psalm singing, prompted by the work of Father Joseph Gelineau and Father Lucien Deiss, French priest-musicians and many other composers. The popularity of the guitar has an impact on the singing of psalms, not just because David used a stringed instrument, but because it suits the vigorous rhythm of the words and the excitement of the situation.
Fr. McBride's Guide to the Bible by Alfred McBride, P.Praem
Next: Israelite Poetry.

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