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Author(s): Donald Jackson
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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 'al 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.
An internationally respected calligrapher, Donald Jackson is the artistic director and illuminator of The Saint John's Bible. He is a Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office at the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, a position in which he is responsible for the creation of official state documents. He 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. Donald Jackson works with a team of theologians and artists from Saint John's University and Abbey on The Saint John's Bible. From his scriptorium in Wales, he oversees scribes, artists, and craftsmen who work with him on the handwriting and illumination of the seven-volume, 1,150-page Bible.
"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
"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
"Psalms and Prophets are both commended for your coffee table or library.Liturgy, Hymnody, & Pulpit ... it is a definite tour de force of art. It is innovative in its conception and striking in its artistic expression. --Catholic Library World