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Exploring the Psalms

Welcome to a new faith formation program at St. Peter's! Inspired by a conversation between Bono and Eugene Peterson, the author/translator of The Message, we seek to delve into the rich and varied language the Psalms give us to face all of life's events, both joyous and challenging.

We will explore the language and lyrics of the Psalms using music by U2 and others, and the modern-day Biblical translation The Message, in addition to our treasured Book of Common Prayer version. We will focus on how the different Psalms empower us to a more multi-dimensional relationship with God. 

We will be offering this program in three sessions in Fall 2017:

  • October 8 / 7:00-9:00 pm
  • October 22 / 3:30-5:30 pm
  • November 18 / 3:00-5:00 pm

The location for these sessions is a parishioner's home. Please contact the church office for more information!

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Session 1: An Introduction to the Psalms

At our first session, we will introduce the Psalms in content and context. Father Dirk will provide a perspective for the group. We will also watch the video of the interview with Bono and Eugene Peterson, linked above, and take a look at a few Psalms through the lense of different translations. Finally, we will talk about how the musical nature of the Psalms impacts how we interact with them in our daily lives.

October 8 / 7:00 pm

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Session 2: The Psalms as Songs of Lament

In our second session of this series, we will examine the Psalms of lament, which God's people have used for centuries to express sadness, frustration, and even anger. As Bono says in the interview, these Psalms give us the language, and permission, to express these complicated and human emotions to a God who is with us at every turn. Again, we will use both music and lyrics to experience the different expressions of these important Psalms.

October 22 / 3:30 pm

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Session 3: The Psalms as Songs of Praise

These are the Psalms of praise to God for his creation and for his presence in our daily lives. In our final session of this series, we will explore these psalms through music, and again examine the texts in at least two translations, The Message and the Book of Common Prayer. Finally, we will examine how these Psalms of praise give us language to use in our own relationship with God.

November 18 / 3:00 pm

More Videos: Beyond the Psalms
A follow-up series one year later


Please use these resources both in preparation for and as an accompaniment to our Exploring the Psalms study. 

Many of these come from Fuller Studio, whose initial recording inspired our study. Thank you!

A List of Resources for Exploring the Psalms from David Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture and the director of Brehm Texas:

Psalms & Prayer

Brueggeman, Walter. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit, 2007.
Countryman, L. William. Conversations with Scripture: The Psalms, 2012.
Fraser, Lyn. Prayers from the Darkness: The Difficult Psalms, 2005.
Jacobson, Rolf A. and Karl N. Jacobson. Invitation to the Psalms, 2013.
Lewis, C.S. Reflections on the Psalms, 1964.
Peterson, Eugene. Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, 1964.
Peterson, Eugene. Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayers & Reflections on the Words of David, 1993.

U2 and the Psalms

Calhoun, Scott. Bono's Prophetic Vox,
Neufeld, Tim. Ancient Psalms for a State of the Art Tour,
Pancella, Angela. Eugene Peterson: U2 Connections,
Taylor, David. The Sayings of Bono (on the Psalms), 2016

Fresh Translations of the Psalms

Adam, David. Music of the Heart: New Psalms in the Celtic Tradition, 2004.
Peterson, Eugene. The Message: Psalms, 1994.
Psalms (Pocket Book Canon), with an introduction by Bono, 1999.
Seervald, Calvin. Voicing God's Psalms, 2005.

Psalms and Justice

Ekblad, Bob. Reading the Bible with the Damned, 2005.
Walker-Jones, Arthur. The Green Psalter: Resources for an Ecological Spirituality, 2009.
Waltke, Bruce and James Houston. The Psalms as Christian Lament, 2010.
Weems, Ann. Psalms of Lament, 1999.

Psalms and Poetry

Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Poetry, 2011.
Johnson, J. Chester. Auden, The Psalms, and Me, 2017.
Kimbrough, Jr., T. The Unpublished Poetry of Charles Wesley, 1990.
Kugel, James. The Great Poems of the Bible: A Reader's Companion with New Translations, 2008).
Osherow, Jacqueline. Dead Men's Praise, 1999.

The Psalms and the Visual Arts

Brown, William. Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor, 2002.
Collier, Aaron. Songs of Ascents, 2007.
Jackson, Donald. "Psalms," The Saint John's Bible, 2005.
Kaai, Anneke and Eugene Peterson, Seeing a New Song: Painting the Psalms Connection, 2008.