The word psalms is derived from the Greek ψαλμοί (psalmoi), originally meaning "songs sung to a harp", from psallein "play on a stringed instrument".
The Book of Psalms consists of 150 psalms, each of which constitutes a religious song, though one or two are atypically long and may constitute a set of related chants. When the Bible was divided into chapters, each Psalm was assigned its own chapter. Psalms are sometimes referenced as chapters, despite chapter assignments postdating the initial composition of the "canonical" Psalms by at least 1,500 years. Though most of the psalms are believed to have been intended for singing (some even include instrumentation and the names of tunes to sing to), none includes any form of musical notation, so it is impossible to determine the tunes to which the psalms were to be sung. (The Hebrews were not known to have or use any sort of musical notation.)
|Hebrew Psalms||Greek Psalms|
Christian traditions vary:
For the remainder of this article, the Hebrew Psalm numbers will be used unless otherwise noted.
Most manuscripts of the Septuagint also include a Psalm 151, present in Eastern Orthodox translations; a Hebrew version of this poem was found in the Psalms Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Psalms Scroll presents the Psalms in an order different from that found elsewhere, and also contains a number of non-canonical poems and hymns. For the other psalms found in some versions of the Peshitta see Psalms 152–155.
Part of a series
of articles on the
(Books common to all Christian and Judaic canons)
|Genesis · Exodus · Leviticus · Numbers · Deuteronomy · Joshua · Judges · Ruth · 1–2 Samuel · 1–2 Kings · 1–2 Chronicles · Ezra (Esdras) · Nehemiah · Esther · Job · Psalms · Proverbs · Ecclesiastes · Song of Songs · Isaiah · Jeremiah · Lamentations · Ezekiel · Daniel · Minor prophets|
|Tobit · Judith · 1 Maccabees · 2 Maccabees · Wisdom (of Solomon) · Sirach · Baruch · Letter of Jeremiah · Additions to Daniel · Additions to Esther|
|Greek and Slavonic Orthodox canon|
|1 Esdras · 3 Maccabees · Prayer of Manasseh · Psalm 151|
|Georgian Orthodox canon|
|4 Maccabees · 2 Esdras|
|Ethiopian Orthodox "narrow" canon|
|Apocalypse of Ezra · Jubilees · Enoch · 1–3 Meqabyan · 4 Baruch|
|Psalms 152–155 · 2 Baruch · Letter of Baruch|
In the New Testament, six of the Psalms (2, 16, 32, 69, 95, and 110) are specifically identified as the work of David (in, respectively, Acts 4:25; Acts 2:31; Rom. 4:6; Rom. 11:9; Heb. 4:7; and Matt. 22:43 and corresponding verses in the other Synoptic Gospels, as well as Acts 2:34).
Muslim tradition maintains that the Psalms, known as Zabur in the Quran, were revealed to David by God in the same way that the Torah was revealed to Moses, the Gospels to Jesus, and the Quran to Muhammad.
Many modern scholars see them as the product of several authors or groups of authors, many unknown.:5 Most Psalms are prefixed with introductory words—"superscriptions"—(which are frequently different in the Masoretic and Septuagint traditions, or missing in one while present in the other) ascribing them to a particular author or saying something, often in fairly cryptic language, about the circumstances of their composition or use; only 73 of these introductions claim David as author.
Modern scholars generally conclude that Psalms is a post-Exilic collection of poems, the work of several authors from differing dates. Many of the poems were probably composed as early as the Monarchy, when they honored successions of Davidic kings. The early poems may have been used in worship at the First Temple.
Psalms 39, 62, and 77 are linked with Jeduthun, to be sung after his manner or in his choir. Psalms 50 and 73–83 are the Psalms of Asaph, associated with Asaph, as the master of his choir, to be sung in the worship of God. The ascriptions of Psalms 42, 44–49, 84, 85, 87, and 88 assert that the "sons of Korah" were entrusted with arranging and singing them; 2 Chronicles 20:19 suggests that this group formed a leading part of the Korathite singers. Hebraist Joel M. Hoffman suggests that Psalm 49 may be an anti-corruption Psalm, not "for Korah" but "against Korah."
Psalm 18 is also found, with minor variations, at 2 Samuel 22, for which reason, in accordance with the naming convention used elsewhere in the historic parts of the Bible, it is known as the Song of David.
Benjamin Urrutia wrote a brief article on the Egyptian religious ritual of the Opening of the Mouth. In it, he traces common themes between the Opening of the Mouth and Psalm 51, such as opening the mouth (or of the lips, in Psalm 51), healing of broken bones, and washing the inner organs with special cleansing spices.
In Jewish usage, the Book of Psalms is divided, after the analogy of the Pentateuch, into five books, each closing with a doxology or benediction (For the Orthodox Christian division into twenty kathismata, see Eastern Orthodox usage, below):
Psalm 136 is generally called "the great Hallel", but the Talmud also includes Psalms 120–135. Psalms 113–118 constitute the Hallel, which is recited on the three great feasts, (Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles); at the new moon; and on the eight days of Hanukkah. A version of Psalm 136 with slightly different wording appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm. It is composed of 176 verses, in sets of eight verses, each set beginning with one of the 22 Hebrew letters. Several other Psalms also have alphabetical arrangements. These psalms are believed to be written (rather than oral) compositions from the first, and thus of a relatively late date.
Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm, containing but two verses.
Hermann Gunkel's pioneering form-critical work on the psalms sought to provide a new and meaningful context in which to interpret individual psalms – not by looking at their literary context within the Psalter (which he didn’t see as significant), but by bringing together psalms of the same genre (Gattung) from throughout the Psalter. The main genres are:
Psalm forms or types also include:
In the Pentateuch (or Torah), Moses leads the Jews in two songs of praise: upon the splitting of the Red Sea (Exodus 15) and before his death (Deuteronomy 32). Also, the Jews sing upon miracles done for them with the well (Numbers 21). Other Jewish figures would sing songs to celebrate miracles, including Joshua and Deborah. It is David, though, who is known as the "sweet singer of Israel".
In Jewish tradition, the Psalms were actually sung in front of the Tabernacle, and then later during the reign of King Solomon, when the Temple was completed, they were sung from the steps of the Temple. The singers all came from the tribe of Levi (Levites), and it was exclusively their privilege - no non-Levites were allowed to sing. Levites played musical accompaniment on various instruments, some mentioned within the Psalms themselves. While the Psalms are used extensively in worship and prayer, the original intent was as a vehicle to teach, explain, encourage, and communicate with the individual listener as well as the entire people, hence their public performance. Today we have some knowledge as to which Psalms were sung on specific days or occasions, but we do not know the entire schedule.
Some of the titles given to the Psalms in their ascriptions suggest their use in worship:
Psalms are used throughout traditional Jewish worship. Many complete Psalms and verses from Psalms appear in the morning services. Psalm 145 (commonly referred to as "Ashrei", which is really the first word of 2 verses appended to the beginning of the Psalm), is read during or before services, three times every day. Psalms 95–99, 29, 92, and 93, along with some later readings, comprise the introduction ("Kabbalat Shabbat") to the Friday night service.
Traditionally, a different "Psalm for the Day" is read after the morning service each day of the week (starting Sunday, Psalms: 24, 48, 82, 94, 81, 93, 92). This is described in the Mishnah (the initial codification of the Jewish oral tradition) in the tractate "Tamid." According to the Talmud, these daily Psalms were originally recited on that day of the week by the Levites in the Temple in Jerusalem.
When a Jew dies, a watch is kept over the body and Tehillim (Psalms) are recited constantly by sun or candlelight, until the burial service. Historically, this watch would be carried out by the immediate family – usually in shifts – but in contemporary practice, this service is provided by an employee of the funeral home or Chevra kadisha.
Many Jews complete the Book of Psalms on a weekly or monthly basis. Each week, some also say a Psalm connected to that week's events or the Torah portion read during that week. In addition, many Jews (notably Lubavitch, and other Chasidim) read the entire Book of Psalms prior to the morning service, on the Sabbath preceding the calculated appearance of the new moon.
The reading of psalms is viewed in Jewish tradition as a vehicle for gaining God's favor. They are thus often specially recited in times of trouble, such as poverty, disease, or physical danger; in many synagogues, Psalms are recited after services for the security of the State of Israel. Note that Sefer ha-Chinuch  states that this practice is designed not to achieve favor, as such, but rather to inculcate belief in Divine Providence into one's consciousness - as consistent with Maimonides' general view on Providence. (Relatedly, according to some people, the Hebrew verb for prayer - hitpalal התפלל - is in fact the reflexive form of palal פלל, to judge. Thus, "to pray" conveys the notion of "judging oneself": ultimately, the purpose of prayer - tefilah תפלה - is to transform ourselves ; for the relationship between prayer and psalms - "tehillah and tefillah" - see S. R. Hirsch, Horeb §620. See also under Jewish services.)
Psalms may also be read by a group of people who divide up the psalms between them to allow for a complete reading of the book.
Taken together, the Psalms express virtually the full range of Israel's faith.
New Testament references show that the earliest Christians used the Psalms in worship, and the Psalms have remained an important part of worship in most Christian Churches. The Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican Churches have always made systematic use of the Psalms, with a cycle for the recitation of all or most of them over the course of one or more weeks. In the early centuries of the Church, it was expected that any candidate for bishop would be able to recite the entire Psalter from memory, something they often learned automatically during their time as monks.
Paul the Apostle quotes psalms (specifically Psalms 14 and 53, which are nearly identical) as the basis for his theory of original sin, and includes the scripture in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3.
Several conservative denominations sing only the Psalms (some churches also sing the small number of hymns found elsewhere in the Bible) in worship, and do not accept the use of any non-Biblical hymns; examples are the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, the Westminster Presbyterian Church in the United States and the Free Church of Scotland.
Some Psalms are among the best-known and best-lovedpassages of Scripture, with a popularity extending well beyond regular church-goers.
New translations and settings of the Psalms continue to be produced. An individually printed volume of Psalms for use in Christian religious rituals is called a Psalter.
Eastern Orthodox Christians and Greek-Catholics (Eastern Catholics who follow the Byzantine rite), have long made the Psalms an integral part of their corporate and private prayers. To facilitate its reading, the 150 Psalms are divided into 20 kathismata (Greek: καθισματα; Slavonic: каѳисмы, kafismy; lit. "sittings"), and each kathisma (Greek: καθισμα; Slavonic: каѳисма, kafisma) is further subdivided into three stases (Greek: στασεις, staseis' lit. "standings", sing. στασις, stasis).
At Vespers and Matins, different kathismata are read at different times of the liturgical year and on different days of the week, according to the Church's calendar, so that all 150 psalms (20 kathismata) are read in the course of a week. In the twentieth century, some lay Christians have adopted a continuous reading of the Psalms on weekdays, praying the whole book in four weeks.
Aside from kathisma readings, Psalms occupy a prominent place in every other Orthodox service including the services of the Hours and the Divine Liturgy. In particular, the penitential Psalm 50 is very widely used. Fragments of Psalms and individual verses are used as Prokimena (introductions to Scriptural readings), and Stichera. The bulk of Vespers would still be composed of Psalms even if the kathisma were to be disregarded; Psalm 119, "The Psalm of the Law", is the centerpiece of Matins on Saturdays, some Sundays, and the Funeral service. The entire book of Psalms is traditionally read out loud or chanted at the side of the deceased during the time leading up to the funeral, mirroring Jewish tradition.
The Psalms have always been an important part of Roman Catholic liturgy. The Liturgy of the Hours is centered on chanting or recitation of the Psalms, using fixed melodic formulas known as psalm tones. Early Catholics employed the Psalms widely in their individual prayers also; however, as knowledge of Latin (the language of the Latin Rite) became uncommon, this practice ceased among the unlearned. However, until the end of the Middle Ages it was not unknown for the laity to join in the singing of the Little Office of Our Lady, which was a shortened version of the Liturgy of the Hours providing a fixed daily cycle of twenty-five psalms to be recited, and nine other psalms divided across Matins.
The work of Bishop Richard Challoner in providing devotional materials in English meant that many of the psalms were familiar to English-speaking Catholics from the eighteenth century onwards. Challoner translated the entire of the Lady Office into English, as well as Sunday Vespers and daily Compline. He also provided other individual Psalms such as 129/130 for prayer in his devotional books. Challoner is also noted for revising the Douay-Rheims Bible, and the translations he used in his devotional books are taken from this work.
Until the Second Vatican Council the Psalms were either recited on a one-week or, less frequently (as in the case of Ambrosian rite), two-week cycle. Different one-week schemata were employed: all secular clergy followed the Roman distribution, while Monastic Houses almost universally followed that of St Benedict, with only a few congregations (such as the Benedictines of St Maur) following individualistic arrangements. The Breviary introduced in 1974 distributed the psalms over a four-week cycle. Monastic usage varies widely. Some use the four week cycle of the secular clergy, many retain a one week cycle, either following St Benedict's scheme or another of their own devising, while others opt for some other arrangement.
Official approval was also given to other arrangements (see "Short" Breviaries in the 20th and early 21st century America for an in-progress study) by which the complete Psalter is recited in a one or two-week cycle. These arrangements are used principally by Catholic contemplative religious orders, such as that of the Trappists (see for example the Divine Office schedule at New Melleray Abbey).
The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, 122 sanctions three modes of singing/recitation for the Psalms:
Of these three the antiphonal mode is the most widely followed.
Over the centuries, the use of complete Psalms in the liturgy declined. The Tridentine Mass preserved only isolated verses that, in some cases, were originally refrains sung during recitation of the whole Psalm from which they were taken. After the Second Vatican Council (which also permitted the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy) longer psalm texts were reintroduced into the Mass, during the readings. The revision of the Roman Missal after the Second Vatican Council reintroduced the singing or recitation of a more substantial section of a Psalm, in some cases an entire Psalm, after the first Reading from Scripture. This Psalm, called the Responsorial Psalm, is usually sung or recited responsorially, although the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 61 permits direct recitation.
The psalms are extremely popular among those who follow the Reformed tradition.
Following the Protestant Reformation, verse paraphrases of many of the Psalms were set as hymns. These were particularly popular in the Calvinist tradition, where in the past they were typically sung to the exclusion of hymns. Calvin himself made some French translations of the Psalms for church usage. Martin Luther's A Mighty Fortress is Our God is based on Psalm 46. Among famous hymn settings of the Psalter were the Scottish Psalter and the settings by Isaac Watts. The first book printed in North America was a collection of Psalm settings, the Bay Psalm Book (1640).
But by the 20th century they were mostly replaced by hymns in church services. However, the Psalms are popular for private devotion among many Protestants and still used in many churches for traditional worship. There exists in some circles a custom of reading one Psalm and one chapter of Proverbs a day, corresponding to the day of the month.
The version of the Psalter in the American Book of Common Prayer prior to the 1979 edition is a sixteenth century Coverdale Psalter. The Psalter in the American Book of Common Prayer of 1979 is a new translation, with some attempt to keep the rhythms of the Coverdale Psalter.
Anglican chant is a method of singing prose versions of the Psalms.
In the early 17th century, when the King James Bible was introduced, the metrical arrangements by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins were also popular and were provided with printed tunes. This version and the New Version of the Psalms of David by Tate and Brady produced in the late seventeenth century (see article on Metrical Psalter) remained the normal congregational way of singing psalms in the Church of England until well into the nineteenth century.
The Psalms are one of the most popular parts of the Bible among followers of the Rastafari movement. Rasta singer Prince Far I released an atmospheric spoken version of the psalms, Psalms for I, set to a roots reggae backdrop from The Aggrovators.
Notable settings of multiple psalms as a single composition include:
The psalms also feature large in settings of Vespers, including by Claudio Monteverdi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Antonio Vivaldi who wrote such settings as part of their responsibilities as church musicians.
Most settings of individual psalms are indicated under the articles devoted to those particular psalms; settings for other psalms not in such articles include:
|Books of the Kethuvim|
|Three Poetic Books|
|4. Song of Songs|
The Twelve Prophets
|Hebrew Bible||Followed by
|Western Old Testament|
|Eastern Old Testament||Followed by
Note: There are many different translations of the Bible, and most have some small differences between their texts.
Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the
nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD;
and in His law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, That gives its own fruit in its season And the foliage of which does not wither, And everything he does will succeed.
4 The wicked are not like that, But are like the chaff that the wind drives away.
5 That is why the wicked ones will not stand up in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of righteous ones.
6 For Jehovah is taking knowledge of the way of righteous ones, But the very way of wicked ones will perish.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep;
for thou only, LORD, makest me dwell in safety.
For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;
their inward part is very wickedness;
their throat is an open sepulcher;
they flatter with their tongue.
Destroy thou them, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions;
for they have rebelled against thee.
O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there is iniquity in my
If I have rewarded evil to him that was at peace with me;
(yes, I have delivered him that without cause is my enemy:)
Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it;
yes, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay my honor in the dust.
The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity that is in me.
Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived
mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
He made a pit, and digged it, and hath fallen into the ditch which he made.
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast
crowned him with glory and honor.
Thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet...
When my enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at
For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou sattest on the throne judging right.
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities;
their memorial hath perished with them.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer from them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death...
The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, "There is no God."
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my
heart daily? how long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
And my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
Long enough, God - you've ignored me long enough. I've looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I've carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me. Take a good look at me, God, my God; I want to look life in the eye...I've thrown myself headlong into Your arms - I'm celebrating Your rescue. I'm singing at the top of my lungs, I'm so full of answered prayers.
They have all turned aside, together they have become
There is no one who does good, not even one.
Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?
who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD.
The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be
I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips.
The wise counsel God gives me when I'm awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. Day and night I'll stick with God; I've got a good thing going and I'm not letting go.
Listen while I build my case, God, the most honest prayer you'll ever hear. Show the world I'm innocent - in Your heart You know I am. Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night - You'll find I'm just what I say I am. My words don't run loose. I'm not trying to get my way in the world's way. I'm trying to get Your way, Your Word's way. I'm staying on Your trail; I'm putting one foot in front of the other. I'm not giving up. I call to You, God, because I'm sure of an answer. So - answer! Bend Your ear! Listen sharp! Point grace-graffiti on the fences; take in Your frightened children who are running...straight to You.
The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.
I have pursued my enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I
turn again till they were consumed.
I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise;
They fell under my feet.
For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.
Thou hast also given me the necks of my enemies;
that I might destroy them that hate me.
They cried, but there was none to save them: even to the LORD, but he answered them not.
Then I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I cast them out as the dirt in the streets.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were kicked around. He has never wandered off to do His own thing; He has been right there, listening.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (KJV)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Who shall ascend upon the hill of the LORD? and who shall stand
in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart;
who hath not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
Show me how You work, God; school me in Your ways. Take me by the hand; lead me down the path of truth. You are my Savior, aren't You?...Mark me with Your sign of love. Plan only the best for me, God! God is fair and just; He corrects the misdirected, sends them in the right direction. He gives the rejects His hand, and leads them step-by-step. From now on every road you travel will take You to God. Follow the Covenant signs; read the charted directions...If I keep my eyes on God, I won't trip over my own feet...Keep watch over me and keep me out of trouble; don't let me down when I run to You. Use all your skill to put me together; I wait to see Your finished product.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.
Do not drag me away with the wicked And with those who work
iniquity, Who speak peace with their neighbors, While evil is in
Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors: give them after the work of their hands;
render to them their desert.
I hate those who regard vain idols, But I trust in the LORD.
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.
All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you... Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.
Old King James Version: That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.
American Standard Version That they may know that thou alone, whose name is Jehovah, Art the Most High over all the earth.
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: "That people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, You alone are the Most High over all the earth."
For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.
Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice.
א על נהרות, בבל--שם ישבנו, גם-בכינו: בזכרנו, את-ציון.
ב על-ערבים בתוכה-- תלינו, כנרותינו.
ג כי שם שאלונו שובינו, דברי-שיר-- ותוללינו שמחה:
שירו לנו, משיר ציון.
ד איך--נשיר את-שיר-יהוה: על, אדמת נכר.
ה אם-אשכחך ירושלם-- תשכח ימיני.
ו תדבק-לשוני, לחכי-- אם-לא אזכרכי:
אם-לא אעלה, את-ירושלם-- על, ראש שמחתי.
137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down.
Yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
137:2 On the willows in its midst,
we hung up our harps.
137:3 For there, those who led us captive asked us for songs.
Those who tormented us demanded songs of joy:
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
137:4 How can we sing Yahweh’s song in a foreign land?
137:5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill.
137:6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I don’t remember you;
if I don’t prefer Jerusalem above my chief joy.
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Psalms is a book in the Bible. The following English translations may be available:
Each "chapter" of the Book of Psalms is actually an individual psalm — an individual poem or hymn. Thus, when referring to a specifically numbered Psalm, the singular is preferred. It is Psalm 23, and not Psalms 23.
The psalms are the production of various authors. "Only a portion of the Book of Psalms claims David as its author. Other inspired poets in successive generations added now one now another contribution to the sacred collection, and thus in the wisdom of Providence it more completely reflects every phase of human emotion and circumstances than it otherwise could." But it is specially to David and his contemporaries that we owe this precious book. In the "titles" of the psalms, the genuineness of which there is no sufficient reason to doubt, 73 are ascribed to David. Peter and John (Acts 4:25) ascribe to him also the second psalm, which is one of the 48 that are anonymous. About two-thirds of the whole collection have been ascribed to David.
Psalms 39, 62, and 77 are addressed to Jeduthun, to be sung after his manner or in his choir. Psalms 50 and 73-83 are addressed to Asaph, as the master of his choir, to be sung in the worship of God. The "sons of Korah," who formed a leading part of the Kohathite singers (2Chr 20:19), were intrusted with the arranging and singing of Psalm 42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87, and 88.
None of the psalms can be proved to have been of a later date than the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, hence the whole collection extends over a period of about 1,000 years. There are in the New Testament 116 direct quotations from the Psalter.
Psalm 136 is generally called "the great hallel." But the Talmud includes also Psalm 120-135. Psalm 113-118, inclusive, constitute the "hallel" recited at the three great feasts, at the new moon, and on the eight days of the feast of dedication.
"It is presumed that these several collections were made at times of high religious life: the first, probably, near the close of David's life; the second in the days of Solomon; the third by the singers of Jehoshaphat (2Chr 20:19); the fourth by the men of Hezekiah (29, 30, 31); and the fifth in the days of Ezra."
The Mosaic ritual makes no provision for the service of song in the worship of God. David first taught the Church to sing the praises of the Lord. He first introduced into the ritual of the tabernacle music and song.
Divers names are given to the psalms.
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