George Herbert once penned:
Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear
The tune of which all things hear and fear, the drama of Christ. The Psalms, whilst not explicitly portraying Christ’s performance, pierce the core of our being. Few texts can have had a more decisive impact on Western culture across the centuries than the Psalter. Central to the scriptures that have shaped both Jewish and Christian faith, the Psalms have always enjoyed a prominent place in Western religious life. Their importance is reflected in a wide variety of modes of reception reaching beyond the specifically religious domain and maintaining a strong public presence even in the milieux of modernity. The Psalms have been widely appropriated and ‘sampled’ in the plastic arts, music, literature, and various other cultural forms, and their depths will be replumbed this August in a conference at St Andrews University titled ‘Reversed Thunder: The Art of the Psalms’.
The Institute for Theology, Imagination & the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews invites you to participate in ‘The Art of Psalms’. This major international conference will bring together artists, biblical scholars, historians, literary critics, theologians, and others to explore ways in which the ‘reversed thunder’ of the Psalter has shaped the identity not just of the Jewish and Christian traditions, but of Western culture more widely.