The Psalms and Their Meaning for Today

By Samuel Terrien | Go to book overview

Preface
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

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1
Many of the illustrations mentioned in the following pages are found in Rowland E. Prothero , The Psalms in Human Life ( London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1903). See also John Ker, The Psalms in History and Biography ( Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot, 1888), and Jane T. Stoddart, The Psalms for Every Day; with a Thousand Illustrations from Life and Literature ( London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1939).

-vii-

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The Psalms and Their Meaning for Today
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface - The Psalms in The Life of the Western World vii
  • Contents xv
  • 1 - The Origin Of The Psalms 17
  • 2 - Hymns Of Praise 35
  • I - Worship of The Lord of Nature 37
  • 2 - Worship of The Lord of History 65
  • 3- Worship of The Lord of Zion 93
  • 3 - Prayers In Time of Crisis 123
  • I - National Laments 125
  • 2 - Personal Supplications 143
  • 3 - Penitential Prayers 166
  • 4 - Songs Of Faith 189
  • 2 - Psalms of Trust 212
  • 3 - Psalms of "Wisdom" And Communion 239
  • 5 - Their Meaning For Today 265
  • Suggested Readings 276
  • Index to Psalm References 277
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