THE PSALMS IN THE LIFE OF THE WESTERN WORLD
THE vitality of the Hebrew Psalms in the worship life of the Western world is a noteworthy and almost enigmatic fact. No other book of hymns and prayers has been used for so long a time and by so many diverse men and women. Here is an anthology of religious poems composed and collected in a remote land many centuries ago. The Temple of Jerusalem, in whose shadow most of their poets lived, has remained destroyed for more than fifty generations. Its cultic pageantry and ritual, of which the Psalms were the theological expression and lyrical adornment, have gone the way of ancient Babel and Memphis. Yet this archaic hymnal has survived the cult for which it was created.
Today the Hebrew Psalms are read, chanted, or sung by countless people, every day of the year and everywhere on the face of the earth. They constitute the core of personal prayer and corporate adoration for all forms of Judaism--Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed--and for all churches of Christendom--Greek, Roman, Protestant. Such an enduring and widespread power of survival may be claimed for no other book of poetry and song.1____________________