Cohen’s ‘If It Be Your Will’: Song, Prayer, Psalm
Leonard Cohen described If It Be Your Will ‘as more of a prayer’ than a song during his introduction to its performance by the Webb Sisters and Neil Larson. Here I suggest that it is not only a prayer but more specifically a psalm. Even the title is highly suggestive of a key feature of… Continue reading
Z is for Zeitgeist
Reaching the final post in this A to Z series requires a brief assessment of Psalm 51. Is it The Psalm of Psalms as we noted was suggested by some all the way back at the beginning of the journey? What has become clear is just how important this psalm was in the Middle-Ages. We… Continue reading
Y is for Yerushalayim
Despite Psalm 51’s focus on personal repentance, the city of peace, Yerushalayim features towards the psalm’s conclusion: Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. Psalm 51:18–19, NRSV… Continue reading
X is for X-rated
Throughout this acrostic series we have celebrated how Psalm 51 has inspired great music (A is for Allegri), challenging sermons (J is for John Donne), uplifting commentary (E is for Eleanor Hull) and theological reflection (L is for Luther). Not everything that Psalm 51 has inspired has been so lofty and in tune with the… Continue reading
W is for Wrath
The subject of God’s wrath is a challenging one at a number of levels. It connects with how we understand the atonement and the relationship between the two testaments to name just two. A starting point for any theological reflection and understanding of God’s wrath recognises that the Bible—in both testaments—speaks of God’s wrath, or… Continue reading
V is for Victorian Opinion
Many of these posts have celebrated Psalm 51 as the Psalm of Psalms in the medieval period. Even as late as the Victorian period there were some commentators who weren’t shy of throwing a few superlatives at this psalm and its six companion penitential psalms. Here is Neale and Littledale’s take on the seven psalms:… Continue reading
T is for Tears
Despite the title, I have to confess there are no tears mentioned in Psalm 51. Despite this undeniable fact how many will have shed tears when praying this psalm? Is this not the frequent marker of true contrition and compunction? I know from personal experience that this psalm can be accompanied by tears. If we… Continue reading
R is for Reclassifying
This series of posts is a celebration of Psalm 51. We have suggested that it was the Psalm of Psalms in the medieval period. This implies that somehow it lost its crown. This is indeed the case. So how was Psalm 51 eclipsed by other psalms after having a one millennia hegemony? We will consider… Continue reading
O is for Original Sin
The theological idea of original sin is a nuanced one. Saint Augustine is generally viewed as the theologian who firmly established it as a doctrine in the face of challenges to the idea from Pelagius. This is not the place to rehearse this controversy. Our interest here is with Psalm 51 and how it appears… Continue reading
K is for King David
In the previous post—J is for John Donne—we met his sermon on Psalm 51:7. Throughout this sermon Donne time-and-again reflects on King David as the model penitent. In a very real sense David leads the way for us all. Just as we fail, like him, so we too can receive God’s mercy like David as… Continue reading
This blog’s central aim is to explore all aspects of how the Psalter (the biblical psalms) functions as Scripture today.
To this end it will also include book reviews on the Book of Psalms and related topics.
Some posts will reflect more broadly on biblical interpretation or hermeneutics.
If you like what you see here and want to arrange for me to give a lecture, run a teaching event or a short retreat based around The Psalms then contact me so we can discuss how this might work.