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From: WordNet (r) 2.0

 Psalms
      n : an Old Testament book consisting of a collection of 150
          Psalms [syn: Book of Psalms]

From: Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

 Psalms
    The psalms are the production of various authors. "Only a
    portion of the Book of Psalms claims David as its author. Other
    inspired poets in successive generations added now one now
    another contribution to the sacred collection, and thus in the
    wisdom of Providence it more completely reflects every phase of
    human emotion and circumstances than it otherwise could." But it
    is specially to David and his contemporaries that we owe this
    precious book. In the "titles" of the psalms, the genuineness of
    which there is no sufficient reason to doubt, 73 are ascribed to
    David. Peter and John (Acts 4:25) ascribe to him also the second
    psalm, which is one of the 48 that are anonymous. About
    two-thirds of the whole collection have been ascribed to David.
      Psalms 39, 62, and 77 are addressed to Jeduthun, to be sung
    after his manner or in his choir. Psalms 50 and 73-83 are
    addressed to Asaph, as the master of his choir, to be sung in
    the worship of God. The "sons of Korah," who formed a leading
    part of the Kohathite singers (2 Chr. 20:19), were intrusted
    with the arranging and singing of Ps. 42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87, and
    88.
      In Luke 24:44 the word "psalms" means the Hagiographa, i.e.,
    the holy writings, one of the sections into which the Jews
    divided the Old Testament. (See BIBLE.)
      None of the psalms can be proved to have been of a later date
    than the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, hence the whole collection
    extends over a period of about 1,000 years. There are in the New
    Testament 116 direct quotations from the Psalter.
      The Psalter is divided, after the analogy of the Pentateuch,
    into five books, each closing with a doxology or benediction:
      (1.) The first book comprises the first 41 psalms, all of
    which are ascribed to David except 1, 2, 10, and 33, which,
    though anonymous, may also be ascribed to him.
      (2.) Book second consists of the next 31 psalms (42-72), 18 of
    which are ascribed to David and 1 to Solomon (the 72nd). The
    rest are anonymous.
      (3.) The third book contains 17 psalms (73-89), of which the
    86th is ascribed to David, the 88th to Heman the Ezrahite, and
    the 89th to Ethan the Ezrahite.
      (4.) The fourth book also contains 17 psalms (90-106), of
    which the 90th is ascribed to Moses, and the 101st and 103rd to
    David.
      (5.) The fifth book contains the remaining psalms, 44 in
    number. Of these, 15 are ascribed to David, and the 127th to
    Solomon.
      Ps. 136 is generally called "the great hallel." But the Talmud
    includes also Ps. 120-135. Ps. 113-118, inclusive, constitute
    the "hallel" recited at the three great feasts, at the new moon,
    and on the eight days of the feast of dedication.
      "It is presumed that these several collections were made at
    times of high religious life: the first, probably, near the
    close of David's life; the second in the days of Solomon; the
    third by the singers of Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20:19); the fourth
    by the men of Hezekiah (29, 30, 31); and the fifth in the days
    of Ezra."
      The Mosaic ritual makes no provision for the service of song
    in the worship of God. David first taught the Church to sing the
    praises of the Lord. He first introduced into the ritual of the
    tabernacle music and song.
      Divers names are given to the psalms. (1.) Some bear the
    Hebrew designation _shir_ (Gr. ode, a song). Thirteen have this
    title. It means the flow of speech, as it were, in a straight
    line or in a regular strain. This title includes secular as well
    as sacred song.
      (2.) Fifty-eight psalms bear the designation (Heb.) _mitsmor_
    (Gr. psalmos, a psalm), a lyric ode, or a song set to music; a
    sacred song accompanied with a musical instrument.
      (3.) Ps. 145, and many others, have the designation (Heb.)
    _tehillah_ (Gr. hymnos, a hymn), meaning a song of praise; a
    song the prominent thought of which is the praise of God.
      (4.) Six psalms (16, 56-60) have the title (Heb.) _michtam_
    (q.v.).
      (5.) Ps. 7 and Hab. 3 bear the title (Heb.) _shiggaion_
    (q.v.).