Psalm 51: Psalm of Psalms
Readers of the Psalms have their favourites. There are, however, a small number of psalms that have had much greater popularity and significance over the centuries. Today, Psalm 23 is arguably the Psalm of Psalms, at least in Western Christianity. This has not always been the case. For much of Church history it was eclipsed… Continue reading
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
U is for Undervalued
As I have been researching the reception of Psalm 51 I have found that there is no contemporary treatment of this psalm and its companions, the other six penitential psalms. We saw in S is for the Sixties that, to my knowledge, the 1960s were the last decade in which accessible basic introductions to the… 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
S is for the Sixties
We have seen time and again that Psalm 51 was The Psalm of Psalms in the medieval period. After the Reformation the importance of Psalm 51 and the other penitential psalms ever so gradually receded. There are many reasons for this, some of which we explored in the previous post. Psalm 51 was part of… 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.