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Lauren Stevens and the Art of EveryPsalm

Four years ago, I met Jesse and Leah Roberts, the singer/songwriters of the two-person band, Poor Bishop Hooper, outside of their home in Kansas City. Their living room was full of books, toys, and instruments. Devoted parents of three, Jesse and Leah write and tour their gospel-centered pieces in settings that range from prisons to large, ornate concert halls. 

When we met, they had just begun planning their next and most ambitious project, EveryPsalm. Each Wednesday for three years, they released a song based on each of the 150 Old Testament poems. I was thrilled when they invited me to create the album artwork for the project.

We started having conversations about the album art in July of 2019. I was a Sophomore at the Kansas City Art Institute studying traditional printmaking. I had just learned the copper etching process and in my enchantment of the strange and complex medium, wanted to etch all the psalms illustrations into metal plates. 

I created the plates using an etching process that originated in the 16th century. Rembrandt was a master in this art form, and the equipment I used would not have strayed far from the materials in his own studio. In the process of making the plates, the designs are first hand-drawn into a copper sheet covered in tar and etched in an acid bath. The plate, now carrying the line work on its surface, transfers the design onto paper when rolled through a printing press. 

The album artwork visuals are photographs of the copper plates themselves, and the prints are pulled from their prepped and inked faces when they are rolled under high pressure through the press.

I started drawing thumbnail sketches and taking notes on recurring imagery as I read the Book of Psalms category by category.

Bible scholars often group the 150 poems into seven general categories: psalms of lament, confidence, remembrance, wisdom, thanksgiving, praise, and kingship. As I thematically depicted each, I wanted to create visuals true to the scriptural language as well as the emotional portrayals of the psalmist. 

The Psalms of Wisdom

The drawing for the Psalms of wisdom was the first of the seven plates that I completed. It references Psalm 1:3, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” A man is seen reading scripture underneath a fruit tree beside running water, his foot crushing a serpent below. (Ps. 91) 

The Psalms of Lament

The lament Psalms are prayers of pain, confusion, and anger. Looking at Psalms 3, 13, 22, 77, and 51, I wanted to convey grief and guilt. The adorned king is rendered bent and stiff. He is suspended with references to specific prayers behind him. David’s head hangs low and his stressed fingers appear as if they are holding a weight close to his chest. 

The Psalms of Praise

In contrast, the praise illustration is energetic and celebratory. Psalms 29,47, 96 and 98 encourage dance and joyful singing. “Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.” Through the inclusion of man and animal, I was creating a scene of all of creation praising God. 

The Psalms of Kingship

The kingship etching is my personal favorite. A king kneels beside an altar with his arms stretched high. His crown is set on the ground in preparation for worship. On the altar, a sacrifice burns and smoke rises to frame a landscape of three hills richly decked with resources. This is to represent a blessed kingdom that prospers through the Lord’s oversight.

The Psalms of Confidence

When drawing the etching for the Psalms of confidence, I wanted to portray the calm voice of Psalm 23.  “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”(23:2-3)  In it, a shepherd with a gentle expression leads and watches his flock walking beside him. 

The Psalms of Thanksgiving

The design for the Psalms of thanksgiving shows the aftermath of battle. The background reveals fallen soldiers, horses, and scattered weapons. A kneeling king, with his helmet at his side, raises his hands in a posture of prayerful gratitude. His army waits patiently from a distance as he thanks the Lord for a battle won.

The Psalms of Remembrance

Similar to the lament plate, I wanted the design for the Psalms of remembrance to be a scene reminiscing on past events. A lone Israelite woman in the wilderness kneels with her arm extended. A quail stoops down to land in her open hand. Water pours from a split rock and circles around her. In the center, the parting of the Red Sea is shown with a crowd of refugees moving through it. Three of the ten plagues are shown above the parted waters; a cluster of locusts move with the tall grass around the sea, now red with blood. And a swarm of airborne flies move towards land from above. 

I had never read the psalms thematically before working on this project with Poor Bishop Hooper. I remember being taken by the various authors’ expressions of artistic loyalty throughout the poems. 

“If I forget you O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp. May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I don't make Jerusalem my greatest joy.” (137:5-6). Seeing artmaking as obedience to the ancient text was a lovely concept to contemplate as I was an art student myself, finding my own visual language of worship. 

Poor Bishop Hooper’s Everypsalm project is on all major music streaming platforms as well as on


Lauren Stevens was raised alongside car engineers and Bible scholars in the desert terrain of Chandler, Arizona. A young love of pen and ink drawing easily translated to the linear nature of copper etching when she studied at the Kansas City Art Institute. There, she earned her BFA with a specialized emphasis in printmaking. Now, she is furthering her research as the Fall 2023 printmaking candidate at Arizona State University. 

Her work can be found on my website, and a closer view of her process is shared weekly on her instagram account, Laurenstevens_prints. 


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