The Peculiar Marvel of the Psalms
UPCOMING EVENTS—THE INSTITUTE FOR CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
Feb. 20, Annual Community Hymn Sing with DONALD HUSTAD
Feb. 22, KEITH & KRISTYN GETTY on Campus
Feb. 27 – Mar. 1, KEN MYERS—Christian Worship & Contemporary Culture
Please share this information with those in the Louisville area.
PAST LECTURES AVAILABLE AT www.sbts.edu/icw
THE PECULIAR MARVEL OF THE PSALMS
And, among all the books, the Psalter has certainly a very special grace, a choiceness of quality well worthy to be pondered; for, besides the characteristics which it shares with others, it has this peculiar marvel of its own, that within it are represented and portrayed in all their great variety the movements of the human soul. It is like a picture, in which you see yourself portrayed and, seeing, may understand and consequently form yourself upon the pattern given. Elsewhere in the Bible you read only that the Law commands this or that to be done, you listen to the Prophets to learn about the Savior's coming or you trn to the historical books to lean the doings of the kings and holy men; but in the Psalter, besides all these things, you learn about YOURSELF. You find depicted in it all the movements of your soul, all its changes, its ups and downs, its failures and recoveries. . . .
. . . For he who reads those books is clearly reading not his own words but those of holy men and other people about whom they write; but the marvel of the Psalter is that, barring those prophesies about the Savior and some about the Gentiles, the reader takes all its words upon his lips as though they were his own, and each one sings the Psalms as though they had been written for his special benefit, and takes them and recites them, not as though someone else were speaking or another person's feelings being described, but as himself speaking of himself, offering the words to God as his own heart's utterance, just as though he himself had made them up. Not as the words of the patriarchs or of Moses and the other prophets will he reverence these; no, he is bold to take them as his own and written for his very self. Whether he has kept the Law or whether he has broken it, it is his own doings that the Psalms describe; every one is bound to find his very self in them and, be he faithful soul or be he sinner, each reads in them descriptions of himself.
It seems to me, moreover. That because the Psalms thus serve him who sings them as a mirror, wherein he sees himself and his own soul, he cannot help but render them in such a manner that their words go home with equal force to those who hear him sing, and stir them also to a like reaction.
—Athanasius (c. 295–373) as cited by John D. Witvliet in THE BIBLICAL PSALMS IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION AND GUIDE TO RESOURCES. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007, pp. 7-8. ISBN 978-0-8028-0767-0. This book is hot off the press and promises to be a useful resource for those who want regularly and thoughtfully to include the biblical Psalms in Christian worship.
[Please take a look at the links above to find more information about the upcoming worship events here on the SBTS campus. I would be so appreciative if you would forward that information to interested friends in the Louisville area.]
Sing the Psalms. Be instructed in righteousness.
Have a great week,
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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