The second of seven full-color, page-by-page reproductions from The Saint John's Bible, Psalms engages the eye and ear with five distinct scripts and exquisite illuminations that include digital voice prints of sacred songs from many ethnic and religious traditions.
The Book of Psalms or praises is known as the prayer book of the Bible. For centuries, it has been a source of prayer, devotion, and inspiration. Part of the popularity of the Psalms is that they incorporate the entire breadth of human emotion and experience 'joy, fear, anger, love' all the things we bring to God in our prayer.
Visual representations of chants from Benedictine, Native American, Muslim, Taoist and other traditions are the basis for illuminations of the Psalms. The varying pitch of the chants is rendered graphically to provide a motif for the abstract illumination. Every Psalm page features a small gold image that graphically renders the chanting of the monks from Saint John's Abbey. This process of reading of the Psalms is a continuous reminder that the Psalms are to be sacred songs'and that in such singing God is present.
Jackson chose colors to represent different themes, and designs to symbolize the different types of Psalms. He devised a way of weaving the two together that resulted in a unique script, colors and shading. Readers can identify the patterns representing the national history of Israel corresponding with the individual types of Psalms.
The way the Psalms appear in The Saint John's Bible provide a way to read our favorite Psalms with new eyes so that we might truly see the Psalms whether they are sung or read poetically.
Donald Jackson is one of the world's leading calligraphers and the artistic director and illuminator of The Saint John's Bible. He is a Senior Illuminator to the Queen of England's Crown Office and is an elected Fellow and past Chairman of the prestigious Society of Scribes and Illuminators. His 30-year retrospective exhibition, Painting with Words, premiered at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in August, 1988 and traveled to 13 museums and galleries.