Lent with Jeremy Taylor: Praying the Psalter

During each week of Lent, laudable Practice will present words from Jeremy Taylor reflecting on fundamental practices shared by the Christian traditions. Today, praying the Psalter. Here Taylor offers a deeply patristic and beautifully Christological account of what it means to pray the Psalms, particularly appropriate for Lent as we prepare to enter into the mystery of the Passion and Resurrection:

But that which pleases me most is the fancy of S. Hilary, expounding the Psalter to be meant by the Key of David, spoken of by S. John in his Revelation: And properly enough; for if we consider how many mysteries of Religion are open'd to us in the Psalter, how many things concerning Christ, what clear vaticinations concerning his Birth, his Priesthood, his Kingdome, his Death, the very circumstances of his Passion, his Resurrection, and all the degrees of his Exaltation-more clearly and explicitely recorded in the Psalter, then in all the old Prophets besides, we may easily beleeve that Christ with a Key of David in his hand, is nothing else but Christ fully open'd and manifested to us in the Psalmes in the whole mystery of our Redemption. 

Omnes penè Psalmi Christi personam sustinent, saith Tertullian. Almost all the Psalmes represent the Person of Christ. Now this Key of David, opens not onely the Kingdome of Grace, by Revelation of the mysteries of our Religion, but the Kingdome of Heaven too, it being such a Collection of Prayers, Eucharist, acts of hope, of love, of patience, and all other Christian vertues, that as the everlasting Kingdome is given to the Heire of the House of David, so the Honour of opening that Kingdome is given to the first Prince of that Family; the Psalmes of his Father David are one of the best inlets into the Kingdome of the Sonne. 

Something to this purpose is that saying of one of the old Doctors, Vox psalmodiae si recto corde dirigatur, in tantum omnipotenti Deo aditum ad animum aperit, ut intentae animae vel Propheiae mysteria, vel compunctionis spiritum insundat. The saying or singing of Psalmes opens a way so wide for God to enter into the heart, that a devout soule does usually from such an imployment receive the grace of compunction and contrition, or of understanding Prophecies.

(From Taylor's Preface to his The psalter of David with titles and collects according to the matter of each Psalme, 1647.)


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