The monastic family of Ruadan consisted of three fifties continually; and they received their livelihood without any human exertion on their part, save only prayer and intercession of the Creator, and the daily performance of divine psalmody, in praising the Lord continually for the manner in which they received their sustenance.
- Anonymous, Life of Ruadan, Irish, 17th century from an earlier ms.
Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped.
- 2 Chronicles 29.30
The “three fifties” mentioned in this excerpt refers to the 150 psalms of the psalter. An Irish monastic community “consisted” of these psalms; that is, the people of those communities built their lives around the psalms, and used them to guide not only their worship, but their work in the Lord as well. Singing and praying the psalms was a daily part of life in the monastery of this 6th century saint, as it was of many of the other Christian communities in Ireland from this period.
Christians throughout the ages have tapped into the greater depths of the grace of God by singing the psalms. The psalms contain prayers, songs, and testimonies that speak to our every need. They are God’s gift to us, divinely-inspired texts, scripts, and scores to use in pouring out our hearts before the Lord, celebrating His goodness and greatness, and reflecting on His will for our lives. Imagine how delightful that must have been to be part of a community where people could break into a psalm together at a moment’s notice, uniting their voices to praise and supplicate the Lord – just like we see in Acts 4.23-26.
In Hezekiah’s day, when the temple was being restored and the nation was returning to its proper covenant relationship with God, the king thought it essential that the songs of Asaph should be included with the many psalms of David as part of the daily worship. A casual glance at those psalms – Psalms 50 and 73-83 – will show you why. They remind us that when the people of God stray from Him, He calls them to turn to Him in prayer and singing for revival, renewal, and awakening.
Ruadan and other Celtic Christian leaders must have known as much as well.
Praying and singing the psalms can enrich, enlarge, and expand your prayer life like nothing else. The psalms guide us into new sectors of the landscape of unseen things, meet us in our darkest affections and lift us to bright hope through praise, usher us through praise into the very Presence of Christ, remind us of the needs of the poor and the persecuted, teach us how to pray for the enemies of the faith, enlarge and enrich our vision of God and Christ, expand our concept and experience of the Kingdom, and help us to rest in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God, Who providentially provides for all our needs.
That’s surely a lot to celebrate by singing psalms to the Lord!
As Thanksgiving and Advent approach, we take it for granted that we’re going to sing familiar songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. We enjoy doing so, both because these songs are familiar to us, they express our deepest beliefs and desires, and they allow us to express those joyous and hopeful affections which we especially feel at this time of year.
The psalms can do the same, and more. But you’ll have to work at learning them, so that they become not only familiar, but beloved. God has scripted words to use in approaching Him in prayer and singing, and He has given them to us through the pens of David, Asaph, and various others. Praying and singing the psalms can revolutionize your prayer life, and provide you with words for any occasion, any season, to help you seek, praise, thank, adore, and implore the Lord.
If you’re struggling in prayer, take up the psalms. If you’re not struggling in prayer, take up the psalms anyway, and watch how your prayer life grows.
Learn to make these holy words your own. Sing them throughout the day. Make appointments with God to converse with Him over one of these precious but powerful hymns. You will find, in a short while, that your prayers have become more vivid, more intense, and more a delight as you engage God’s own words with yours in the sweet communion of the psalms.
1. How can you bring more singing into your walk with and work for the Lord? Why should you?
2. God gave us 150 psalms to use in worshiping Him. How should we expect to benefit from singing the psalms?
Psalm 98.4-6 (Duke Street: Come, Let Us Sing Unto the Lord)
Raise to the Lord your loudest voice!
Break forth and sing! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Praise, praise to You, our God and King
with all our hearts and strength we bring!
Give me joy in singing to Your, Lord, as I…
Spread the Word in song
Why not buy yourself and your friends a copy of The Ailbe Psalter, and begin learning to sing the psalms together? In our psalter we have set all the psalms to familiar hymn tunes, like the one in this and every issue of Crosfigell. What better gift could you give yourself and a friend than the invitation and ability to sing the psalms of Scripture in the tested and beloved melodies of the church? Order your copy by clicking here.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
Susie and I give thanks for you each day, and our hearts overflow with gratitude for your friendship, support, and collaboration in this work. God supplies our needs as we look to Him day by day, and He may be pleased to do so, at least in part, through you. Please seek Him in prayer concerning this matter. You can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore
All psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Plummer, p. 311.