A psalm (with a silent '-p-': the '-l-' too is silent, serving only to lengthen the '-a-': the pronunciation is 'SAHM', IPA: /sɑːm/) is a religious song. Specifically, a psalm is one of the 150 separate songs contained in the [Book of] Psalms, one of the component texts of the Old Testament. These are traditionally held to have been composed by David, king of Israel and father of Solomon. The word derives, through medieval Latin, from the Greek ψαλμος (psalmos), a sound of, or a song to the accompaniment of, the harp, or lyre. (David is often shown as a harpist.)
Christians adopted the Jewish Psalms for the purposes of worship. Some were adapted, in the Protestant churches particularly, to be sung in the western musical tradition. In the Scottish church, there is a large body of the Psalms in metre - that is, the psalms 'of David', paraphrased to fit the rhythms of traditional British verse and music.
- psalm has given rise to various derivatives, such as psalmody ('SAH-modd-y', /ˈsɑːm əd ɪ/), 'an arrangement of psalms'; psalmography ('sahlm-OGG-reff-y', /sɑːl ˈmɒ grə fɪ), 'the art of writing psalms'; psalter ('SALT-er', /sɔːl tər), a book of psalms; psaltery ('SALT-er-y' /ˈsɑːl tər ɪ/), which can mean, as well as a book of psalms, a musical instrument like a harp used to accompany the singing of psalms.