These Psalms of Ascent (also known as “Songs of Ascent”,” Pilgrim Songs” or “Songs of Degrees”), were sung by the people as they made their pilgrimage up to Jerusalem three times a year for annual feasts. Passover was in spring, Pentecost in early summer and The Feast of Tabernacles was in early fall. The Hebrew for “ascents” or “degrees” can be translated as “to go up”, as in a staircase. This is fitting as Jerusalem sits upon Mount Moriah and, therefore, the trek is actually a climb.
These Psalms were chosen, as a songbook if you will, and were not specifically written for traveling to Jerusalem. As a worship pastor, I would have loved to be in that planning meeting! Confession time: Although my intentions were good at the onset of studying these Psalms, my perception of them was wrong. These Psalms were not chosen to prepare them for worship in Jerusalem, they were selected that they could be worshiping on their way to Jerusalem! So, as we read these together, let us not view these Psalms as songs of preparation for Sunday mornings, but rather, as songs that our souls sing as we worship during the week on our way to Sunday, or any time we gather together!