“The Anatomy of a Holy Man”
Posted under The Rectory Bulletin
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) once wrote:
THE Psalms are, as it were, the anatomy of a holy man, which lay the inside of a truly devout man outward to the view of others. If the Scriptures be compared to a body, the Psalms may well be the heart, they are so full of sweet affections and passions. For in other portions of Scripture God speaks to us; but in the Psalms holy men speak to God and their own hearts.
The Psalms were for so many millennia the heart of the worship of God. In the good old Church of England, we once would say or sing psalms each morning and evening. The Presbyterians in Scotland retranslated the psalms into verse so that they could be sung to hymn tunes; nothing else was permitted to be sung in church. In the monasteries the psalms would be chanted on a seven day cycle, and many required they be learned by heart.
Now - alas - the psalms seemed to have slipped away unnoticed from our corporate worship. They still exist in those exotic beasts of Matins and Evensong, but otherwise they are rarely seen.
But look again at the quote from Sibbes. The psalms play a unique role in the Bible, they give us a language with which to speak to God and a pattern of prayer to imitate. Perhaps you might turn to the book of Psalms and begin to slowly read them. Allow them to wash around in you mind, and savour their words. Let them be prompts to prayer, and a comfort to the afflicted