On Bede and the Psalms

I have taken St. Bede as my patron because he represents an ideal for me: a spiritually grounded interpreter who fundamentally exists within the cycle of the church’s prayer and who reads and interprets Scripture in conscious connection with the Fathers, with intellectual rigor, for the purpose of edifying souls. I’ve not written anything on why I’ve specifically adopted him as patron of the St Bede Psalmcast as well aside from a general sense of consistency, but I couldn’t resist sharing this quotation from M. J. Toswell’s The Anglo-Saxon Psalter (pricey, I know, but *awesome* nonetheless…) which can go a long way towards doing that job for me:

For Bede, then, the psalter was a kind of intellectual home base. It was a text he could call to mind at will, probably even without volition, and use as a bridge from the Old Testament to the New, from prophecy to fulfillment, from literal and historical analysis to allegory. Bede made mention of the psalms as part f the ordinary course of his writing, interleaving quotations from the psalter so deeply into his works that at times it becomes difficult to tease out the original text. The psalms were alive in Bede’s mind; because of his own deep spirituality, daily butressed by the singing and recitation of the Office, and because of his constant interweaving of them into his thinking about every other question of Christian doctrine or ecclesiastical history that he chose to explore. The psalms were Bede’s spiritual companions; like many others, he chanted them on his deathbed during every part of the day not already occupied with other matters. Psalm reference made understanding Christian doctrine easier for the laity, and Bede used the psalms to encourage devotion and deeper thought on these issues. His lifelong engagement with the psalms was a lifelong engagement with the challenge of understanding and explicating the fundamental text of Christian spirituality. At the same time, Bede is in no way unusual amongst the church fathers. His engagement with the psalms was the engagement of a committed Christian intellectual. It offered a model, and a challenge, for other Anglo-Saxon Christians. (Toswell, A-S Psalter, p. 63)

Emphasis is my own…