Introduced by Valentine Cunningham
Illustrated by Jessica Hische
A jewel-like pocket edition of the monumental King James Version of the Book of Psalms, with exquisitely designed lettering by Jessica Hische and a new introduction by Valentine Cunningham.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp … Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
The Book of Psalms is the spiritual ‘heart’ of the Bible, a key instrument of communal worship for practising Christians and Jews and a focus for private devotion. The 150 Psalms also form the ancient world’s greatest collection of poetry, continuing to speak to readers with unparalleled power more than 2,500 years after they were first composed.
Known in Hebrew simply as ‘Tehillim’ or ‘Praises’, the Psalms range from the glorification to the vindictive blaming of God, lamenting failures to celebrating triumphs, boasting of righteousness to abject confessions of wrongdoing; they take us from the heights of confidence to the depths of self-doubt, from crippling despair to overwhelming joy. With their highly personal outpourings and vast psychological range, reading the Psalms remains an intense religious, literary and emotional experience.
Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel.
The King James Version is the definitive translation of the Bible, unique in its influence on the culture and literature of the English-speaking world. Commissioned by James I in 1604, it took a committee of 47 pre-eminent scholars the next 7 years to complete. With its deliberate archaism, literal translation of Hebrew metaphors and sensitivity to the spoken word, its version of the Book of Psalms captures the essence of the original Hebrew text while achieving its own poetry. In his new introduction, Valentine Cunningham explores the Psalms’ enduring power as a source of literary, religious, political and personal inspiration – and how their language has become our language.
It could well be called a ‘little Bible’ since it contains, set out in the briefest and most beautiful form, all that is to be found in the whole Bible.
Measuring just 6¼" x 4¼", this exquisite edition fits perfectly into the hand, allowing an intensely personal reading experience and an intimate connection with these soul-searching poems. Jessica Hische's beautiful lettering and the generous layouts bring new clarity to the text, whether one is focusing on a single Psalm or experiencing their cumulative effect, reading aloud or for silent contemplation, as poetry or prayer.
Valentine Cunningham is a former Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford whose specialisms include Victorian fiction and poetry, and religion and literature. He reviews widely for various national newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian and the Independent, and broadcasts frequently for BBC Radio on literary, musicological and cultural-historical topics. He sat on the panel of judges for the Booker Prize in 1992 and 1998, and for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2000 and 2001. In 2017 he was awarded an OBE for services to scholarship and the understanding of humanities.
Jessica Hische is a lettering artist and author. She graduated with a degree in Graphic and Interactive Design from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and worked as a designer before pursuing a freelance career in 2009. Her clients have included Wes Anderson, The United States Postal Service, The New York Times and Penguin Books, and her work has featured in numerous design and illustration annuals worldwide. She was named a Print Magazine New Visual Artist (20 under 30), one of Forbes 30 under 30 in Art and Design two years in a row, an ADC Young Gun, and a ‘Person to Watch’ by GD USA. Her first book, In Progress, was published in 2015.
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