2007 Catholic Press Association Award Winner!
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.
Notes regarding Psalms Illuminations
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.
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In the St. John's Bible one sees a Protestant care for words and a Catholic care for ecclesial art sewn back together. This surprising, almost miraculous reunification may spark a renewed attention to art and to ways of living shaped by these words. Such attention would indeed be a fitting way to mark the birth of the Image of God.
The Christian Century
In the days before printed books, people must have thought and felt differently about words on the page: words were written with discipline, slowly and thoughtfully. It was a kind of outward expression of that ruminating over the words of the Bible which shaped the inner world of reflective believers, especially monks. This project not only revives the ancient tradition of the church sponsoring creative arts: it also offers an insight into that lost skill of patient and prayerful reading. We tend to read greedily and hastily, as we do so many other things: this beautiful text shows us a better way.
Archbishop Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
America's Book of Kells.
An impressive achievement.
The Catholic Answer
The St. John's Bible is unquestionably art. And in the practice of Jackson and his team members, so is calligraphy.
Journal Star Lincoln, Nebraska
Psalms exemplifies both the creative spirit of The Saint John's Bible and the project's ecumenical underpinnings. . . . Through the use of colors, stripes, and shapes, this volume weaves the Psalms into a tapestry representing the threads of Jewish and Christian history, leading the reader and viewer to appreciate the complexity and grandeur of God.
Journal of The International Society of Bible Collectors
The favorite choice of most readers of the Bible has now appeared in a strikingly beautiful handwritten illuminated text that will encourage those who pray the psalms to ponder then contemplatively, leading them into the presence of the God of the First Covenant on Mount Sinai.
There is something very reassuring about the fact that a religious community, with all the resources of technology at its disposal for studying medieval books, resolved to commission a most modern Bible in the ancient form of a manuscript.
Dr. Christopher de Hamel, Manuscript Historian
Psalms, as does the first volume of this series, brings Scripture alive-engaging us fully in heart and mind. It would make a thoughtful, lasting gift as well, at Easter or any time.
Psalms and Prophets are both commended for your coffee table or library.
Liturgy, Hymnody, & Pulpit
Imaginatively engaging multicolored panels set the tone for this magnificent biblical book on the Psalms. The calligraphy of each line, each verse, each stanza is flawless and represents artistic talent at its best. Each book of the Psalms is introduced by a multicolored scroll panel that recalls the opening page of the text, thereby giving the work artistic creativity. . . . This volume is truly a gift to our culture and our world, renewing not only the Benedictine spirit and charism but also the spirit of all who sit with this text in wonder and in prayer.
Catholic Books Review
This text is meant not only to be beautiful, like a museum object, but to inspire a renewed love of scripture. It is meant to be read at home and used in liturgy.
The Christian Century
One of the extraordinary undertakings of our time.
Psalms brings Scripture alive-engaging us fully in heart and mind. It would make a thoughtful, lasting gift as well, at Easter or any time.
The Catholic Book Club Newsletter
. . . it is a definite tour de force of art. It is innovative in its conception and striking in its artistic expression.
Catholic Library World