Archives For Psalms

 

The season of Advent will be upon us in less than a month… 

 
We’re giving away FIVE copies
of this new Advent devotional…
 

My Soul Waits: Praying with the Psalms through Advent, Christmas & Epiphany
by Martin Shannon, CJ
Paperback: Paraclete Press

 
 

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191208: The Complete Psalms: The Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation A Review of

The Complete Psalms:
The Book of Prayer Songs
in a New Translation

Translated by Pamela Greenberg.
Hardback: Bloomsbury, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

For thousands of years, the Psalms have been the heartbeat that pulsed life and kept rhythm for the people of God, but sometimes their familiarity can subtly breed mindlessness; we mouth the familiar words and yet miss the power of their words to engage with the oft-brutal realities of living in a fallen world and to transform our hearts and minds.  Out of this familiar milieu emerges Pamela Greenberg’s delightful new translation, The Complete Psalms, which breathes the crisp air of new life into these liturgical songs.  Indeed, Greenberg identifies the compelling force behind her translation as “the impulse of shiru l’Adonai shir chadash, the imperative to sing to God a new song” (xvii).  Her translation process flowed from the tension between the poetic, an attempt “to replicate the emotional passion of the psalms,” and the literal, which in the end resulted in a [dialogical] “middle ground between strict literality and poetic engagement, with the hopes of awakening for the reader new possibilities for speaking with God.”

Consider her verdant translation of the familiar Psalm 100:

Shout out with joy, all who live on earth.

Serve the Holy One with rejoicing.


Come before the Upholder with a ringing cry.

Know that God is a source of wonder.


You created us, and it is to our Creator we belong.

We are shepherded by heavenly guidance.


Come into the divine gates with thankfulness,

the holy courtyards shining with praise.


Be thankful, awed by the Holy Name.

For God is good;

your kindness is toward the world.

From generation to generation, you remain faithful.

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A Review of

256638: The Paraclete Psalter The Paraclete Psalter

Imitation Leather:

Paraclete Press, 2010

Buy now:
[ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Recognizing that the biblical book of Psalms has historically been the primary prayerbook of the people of God — for the Church as well as for the people of Israel in whom the Psalms had their origins — I have been trying for several years to develop a discipline of regularly praying the Psalms that fits the rhythms of our church community’s life together.  I have a deep appreciation for the Benedictine “Liturgy of the Hours,” a tradition that goes back in history at least as far as Benedict himself (see RB18) and in which the entire Psalter is prayed over the course of a week.  Given that our church community has made no commitments to cloistering or celibacy, I quickly realized that we would have to make our way through the Psalter at a slower pace, so I began the process of adapting the Benedictine Liturgy of the Hours to a longer cycle that would fit our church.  I hadn’t made much progress when I found that Paraclete Press was releasing their version of the Psalter adapted to a four week cycle.  The number of daily prayer services has been reduced from the traditional Benedictine seven to four by eliminating the three that are collectively known as “The Little Hours.”  The book’s introduction describes the four remaining services:

Lauds begins the day, causing our first utterances to be those that are offered to the praise of God.  At Midday, we briefly break from our work in order to remember that God, not our work, gives meaning to our day and that whatever good we do will have prayer at its source.  In the evening, we celebrate Vespers, looking back upon the day with thanksgiving, while acknowledging that not all we have done has been to the glory of God.  Finally, at Compline, we commend ourselves and the whole church to God’s care for the night ahead, and we pray for God’s blessing (viii).

The Paraclete Psalter, in sabbath sort of manner, also reduces the number of services on Saturday and Sunday to one and two, respectively.  In addition to the arrangement of the Psalter over this four week cycle, The Paraclete Psalter also includes brief prayers for the day (or collects) that are included at the beginning of Lauds for each day.   A brief meditiation on one of that day’s Psalms is also included at the end of each day’s Vespers.  My only disappointment is that the Psalms here are presented in the NIV translation which seems an inferior choice when contrasted with other English translations, in conveying both the poetry and the meaning of the original Hebrew Psalms.

A slim volume with a sturdy black imitation leather cover, The Paraclete Psalter is not only an elegant book, it also offers us an entryway into the rich tradition of praying the Psalms that is not only deeply rooted in history, but also sensitive to the life complexities of contemporary non-monastics.  And in so doing, it just might provide what I have been in search of for our church community.

 

Ultra-brief Reviews
By Chris Smith

The Green Psalter: Resources for an Ecological Spirituality.
Arthur Walker-Jones.

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Small Footprint, Big Handprint:
How to Live Simply and Love Extravagantly
.
Tri Robinson.

Paperback: Ampelon Publishing, 2008.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com  ]

 The Green Psalter by Arthur Walker-Jones is a new book from Fortress Press that probes the Psalms for a deep wealth of “resources for an ecological spirituality.”  The Psalms have long served as the backbone of Judaic and Christian worship, thus it is quite fitting as we worship a God who is reconciling all creation to have our attention turned to the broader ecological themes that have been latent in the Psalms since they were originally conceived in the ancient Israelite people.  There are strong themes of peace, justice and liberation here; perhaps the most striking chapter was the final one on ecojustice in hymn psalms.  Of these psalms, Walker writes: “From an ecological perspective, these psalms are significant because they identify God with creation, and creation is alive, active, interrelated, and has an intrinsic worth and a voice” (134).  If you long to more holistic forms of worship in the church, then you will want to be sure to find a copy of this book and study it well!

Despite its hokey title, Tri Robinson’s little book Small Footprint, Big Handprint: How Live Simply and Love Extravagantly is an excellent book with which to initiate conversation about a more holistic faith in Christ – it even has discussion questions at the end of each chapter!  While the sections on lessening our footprint were very good, especially the ones on reducing the complexity of our lives, the one on the “big handprint” (i.e., “making a lasting positive impact”) seemed to be very individualistically focused and raised a whole bunch of tricky theological and ethical questions about service and impact.  This would be an excellent book for striking up a conversation among those who haven’t though too much about the significance of HOW we live as Christians, especially in a Sunday school class or bible study group.