It is widely speculated that Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote in iambic pentameter because the rhythm corresponds with the human heartbeat—an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

Actors of the day would memorize their lines 10 syllables at a time and use the gaps, pauses, and structure of the form to feel their way through a performance. Throughout many Elizabethan plays, the pulsing of a heartbeat could almost be considered an additional performer on the stage.

While Psalms as Sonnets could never be, and was not written to be, a translation of the Psalms (or a replacement for the Word of God), my hope is these poems will allow you to experience the essence of them in a new way—using an old method.

My suggestion is to read them slowly, and out loud, and in concert with the book of Psalms. Allow them to naturally find their way into your heart and memory where they can be readily available in times of praise and in times of need.

S. A. Jensen