Monday, March 3, 2014

Psalms, Illuminated

The Psalms are my favorite book of the Bible. I read them three or four times a year, in a variety of versions, each time learning and listening to the expressions of love to the Lord. This book, The Psalms of David, With illuminations by James S. Freemantle, is a favorite. This may be an overload of photos, but I couldn't pick just a few of the best. Actually, this is just a few of the best. If you want to read the Psalms with a fresh, new-life-giving perspective, pick up this book.

James Freemantle was an artist who lived his whole life in India. Many of the flowers, wildlife and art reflect scenes from his home in India and his travels. He worked on this, from about 1906 until 1934, a labor of love for his wife, Clara. The forward, written by his son, said he wasn't a religious man, but Clara must have deeply loved the Psalms for him to give the hours and years he devoted to this work. I quote from the forward: "I remember my father seated at a desk by the window with his paints, specially ordered from Winsor and Newton, spread out before him. He only used those paints and India ink, often taking many hours to do just a couple of lines of his fine wealth of decoration. Sometimes he would do the lettering with a paint brush, making the bodies of the letters first and then adding the tails painstakingly so that no join would show. Thus, half a page a night represented good progress."

There are tiny mistakes, which I love to see. A forgotten word, inserted with a carrot, a repeated word, smudges in the ink. To me, these give the pages a life, a presence, a touch of reality.

The art and wide variety of scripts can be distracting, absorbing the reader's attention on their own merit. Again, for me, these gave the reading a refreshing perspective of beauty and life and joy.

Deuteronomy 17:18 tells the future kings of Israel to copy the words of the law in their own handwriting. This book gives us an example of how beautiful and inspiring this work could be. I love how his efforts were devoted to his wife, a way to share his love for her.

Amazon has this book available.
(not an affiliate link)


  1. Wow! Why have I not seen this book before? It is beautiful! I don't think I could actually read through it though...I would just sit there looking at one page for hours.

  2. Glad to see your post. Years ago I bought this book as a gift meaning to gift myself with one soon. Then I forgot all about it! This is definitely a must have. I love how you pointed out the imperfections - - kind of like people - - we are God's masterpiece yet flawed. How he must love us.