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I started writing Acrostic Psalms over ten years ago for my own pleasure and enjoyment. I find meditating on the Word of God to be exhilarating...and the intense prayer and meditation required to write an Acrostic Psalm is spiritually rewarding.
One of the oldest forms of poetry, there are several instances of acrostics mentioned in the Bible, most notably Psalm 119 and Psalm 145, but I could find little use of this ancient writing technique in modern spiritual poetry.
Acrostics, Acronyms, and Initialism
According to Webster's, an "acrostic" is "a composition, usually in verse, in which the initial, final or other prearranged letters in each line when taken together spell out a word."
While "acronym" is commonly used to describe both acronyms and initialisms, some prefer to differentiate between the two. As such, an acronym would be letters representing words that are pronounced as a word, like FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency); while initialism would be letters representing words that are pronounced as letters, like CEO (Chief Executive Officer).
Acrostics are similar in nature and typically represent an acronym-initialism hybrid. As a fan of both acronyms and initialisms, I was immediately drawn to this unique form of poetry...in part because there is very little use of the technique in modern spiritual poetry; and in part because I found the technique to be spiritually stimulating.
Acrostic Psalms, as I define them, do not necessarily follow the traditional meaning of "psalm" as "a praise and worship song or hymn." Neither do they follow the rhyme or rhythm standards normally associated with traditional Western poetry.
For my purposes, I define an Acrostic Psalm as a verse in which the first letter of each line when taken together spell a word; and the verse when read describes or defines the spiritual nature or influence of the word.
Great is He who sits
On the throne and
Delivers us from evil
There is no standard for writing Acrostic Psalms. Some writers highlight the first letter using capitals, bold type, or florishes to make the acrostic easily discernible, others prefer to conceal the acrostic by keeping the letter in line with generally accepted practices of style.
are sometimes answered
in ways we could
I have used both forms in my writing. I like the mystery of concealing the acrostic when reading the verse...providing a "surprise" when the acrostic is discovered. Highlighting seems to work better when creating lithographs and video presentations...emphasizing the dramatic impact of the word itself. I would be interested in your comments on the subject.
Acrostic Psalms are not confined to Biblical words. They can be, and usually are, common words defined in a spiritual context through the accompanying verse.
As in these examples:
and dreams with God
cast out fear and
enter into His presence
never doubt His wisdom
seek His answer first and
enjoy the peace He
lavishes on those who trust in Him
They can be long or short. Some, like "GOD," are just three lines; others, like "JESUS IS LORD," are much longer. Unlike Haiku or other forms of poetry, it is not the length, rhyme, or rhythm of the verse; it is the spiritual connotation.
While I hesitate to say that promoting Acrostic Psalms is my mission in life, I love the art form so much that I just registered www.acrosticpsalms.com as a vehicle to raise the awareness of the writing pleasure and spiritual benefit proffered by Acrostic Psalms. The site will offer writing tips and contests; and serve as a platform for writers to display their work.
If you would like to try your hand at writing an Acrostic Psalm I would love to see your work. You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
God once told me, "An ocean begins with a single drop of rain." Perhaps this Hub is the first drop in the ocean of spiritual revival through an increased awareness of this ancient writing technique. Time will tell.
And speaking of telling, please tell your friends to visit this page and cast their vote...and let's see if this drop can become an ocean.