25. “Let Everything that Hath Breath Praise the Lord”

The Psalms are praises often set to music. The book of Psalms is the most–quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament. Many psalms prophesy of Christ and have a connection to temple worship.

“Seeing God in His Temple: A Significant Theme in Israel’s Psalms,” Andrew C. Skinner, Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament
A significant theme in the Psalms is the idea that worshippers could come into the presence of God in his holy house in Jerusalem and see him face–to–face. Many Psalms were sung in connection with the Temple. In First Temple times, it seems that both the outward actions and the inward thoughts of the worshipper had to conform to a holy standard for the person to gain entrance into the temple precinct.

“With the Voice Together Shall They Sing,” Laurence P. Hemming, BYU Studies 50, no. 1
Mormons have participated with people of other religions in the scholarly study of the meaning and effect of temples in history and in modern worship. Here Laurence Hemming, a British Catholic scholar and theologian, looks back to the ancient Temple of Jerusalem to find the origin of the liturgy and, specifically, liturgical music. He agrees with Margaret Barker that very early Christianity saw itself as a restoration of the Temple, and today’s Catholic and Orthodox liturgy reflects that foundation.

“The Psalms Sung: The Power of Music in Sacred Worship,” J. Arden Hopkin and Shon D. Hopkin, Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament
Psalms were often used in early Israelite practice in the context of worship. Psalms were set to music in order to enhance worship and to help draw the worshipper into a state in which she or he was prepared to commune with God. Psalms were designed to mirror important functions of the sacrificial ritual. Understanding the temple tradition of psalms can enhance sacrament and temple worship for Latter–day Saints.

“The Psalm 22:16 Controversy: New Evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Shon Hopkin, BYU Studies, Volume 44, no. 3
Few verses in the Bible have produced as much debate and commentary as Psalm 22:16: “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” The discussions center on the last character (reading right to left) of the Hebrew ka’aru (“pierced/dug”), assumed to be the word from which the Septuagint Greek oruxsan (“they have pierced”) was translated–assumed because the original Hebrew texts from which the Septuagint was translated are no longer extant. If the last character of the Hebrew word was a waw (ו), as the Greek seems to indicate, then the translation “pierced” is tenable. But a later Hebrew text called the Masoretic text has a yod (‘) instead of a waw (l), making the word ka’ari, which translated into English reads “like a lion my hands and my feet.” Thus, two divergent possibilities have existed side by side for centuries, causing much speculation and debate.

“Gestures of Praise: Lifting and Spreading the Hands in Biblical Prayer,” David M. Calabro, Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament
The ancient Israelite gesture of raising both hands in praise or supplication is mentioned in twenty–four scriptural passages,including several in Psalms.

“Worship: Bowing Down and Serving the Lord,” Jennifer C. Lane, Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament
We can study worship in Old Testament vocabulary and usage, and examine what this suggests about worship in our day. Both the vocabulary and temple context of worship in the Old Testament give us a vision of worship as the embodiment of a true relationship of submission to God.

“Temple Worship and a Possible Reference to a Prayer Circle in Psalm 24,” Donald W. Parry, BYU Studies 32, no. 4
Several scholars have identified Psalm 24 as a temple liturgical hymn. Sigmund Mowinckel, for example, believes that Psalm 24 contains leges sacrae, or “laws of the sanctuary,” those “special rules and special demands as to the qualifications of those to be admitted” into the temple. Speaking specifically of Psalm 24, Hans–Joachim Kraus states that we “must reckon with the presence in the Psalms of concepts connected with the sanctuary of the Ark.” Additionally, scholars have considered how God’s presence in the temple is demonstrated in Psalm 24. Leopold Sabourin has discussed Psalm 24 and “God’s theophany in sanctuary,” and Kraus avers that “the liturgy of Psalm 24 celebrates Yahweh Sebaoth, the God of Israel, who is entering the sanctuary….He is accompanied and surrounded by the ‘righteous’ by the ‘true Israel.’

“‘My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?’ Psalm 22 and the Mission of Christ,” Shon D. Hopkin, BYU Studies Quarterly 52, no. 4
Perhaps no Old Testament texts have exerted more influence on the New Testament understanding of Christ’s mission than Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. This paper aims to illuminate the powerful, Christ–entered nature of Psalm 22. It first discusses Psalm 22 in detail, demonstrating its prophetic connections with Christ’s ministry, including early Christian insights regarding the Psalm. It then discusses the importance of Christ’s quotation from the cross of Psalm 22:1—”My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”—and analyzes LDS statements regarding it.

“The Psalm of Nephi: A Lyric Reading,” Steven P. Sondrup, BYU Studies 21, no. 3
Because by far the greatest portion of the Book of Mormon is narrative, other literary modes embedded in the narrative flow are less obvious and consequently less easily identified and read in terms of their own unique generic conventions. One such passage occurs in the fourth chapter of 2 Nephi, verses 16 through 35, a passage that is often referred to as the “Psalm of Nephi,” at least since Sidney Sperry provided this formulation in his commentary on the Book of Mormon. The question to be discussed with reference to these verses is not whether they are a psalm in the biblical sense of the term but rather the nature and extent of their poetic qualities and some of the most central interpretive implications inextricably connected with their lyricism.

“Parallels between Psalms 25–31 and the Psalm of Nephi,” Kenneth L. Alford and D. Bryce Baker, Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament
Nephi’s soul–searching introspection found in 2 Nephi 4:16–35 is a cherished and moving passage of scripture. Evidence in the writings of the prophets in the Book of Mormon who had access to the brass plates show that they were familiar with the Psalms.