Many nations had poet kings, but ancient Israel is probably unique in having a poet as founder of the royal house. According to Scripture the young David sang psalms while in hiding, and the elderly David wrote many psalms and encouraged others to do so. With this example before them, the Hebrews became a highly poetical people. They sang psalms in their temple and in their homes, and were famed for their songs even as exiles in Babylon: “There our captors asked us for words of song, and our wardens for joyful song: ‘Oh, sing to us a song of Zion!’” (Psalm 137:3).
The psalms hold many more names and titles of God than have been transmitted. These theological phrases are among the most important, because this is sacred poetry. Chant enthusiasts and scholars will know that the peregrine chant tones come from the Gregorian repertory. Jewish historians or musicologists will find great interest in these translated psalms since the tones come also from the Jewish repertory.
About the Author: Father Joseph Ponessa, SSD, earned a doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, studying under Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, SJ, and mastering thirteen languages. He is a a priest of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana and has been praying the Psalms in Hebrew for four decades.