Psalm 138: 7-8
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Do you miss singing during worship? I know that I do. It’s difficult for this lifelong church-goer to get through a hymn during the pandemic without bursting out into a full-throated song of thanksgiving or lament. I sometimes imagine what would happen if the birds who wake me up in the morning were suddenly required to hum their hymn of morning praise behind tiny little bird masks; pandemonium would break out in our backyard, with a litany of squawking and cawing filling the morning air amidst a flurry of feathers. It would be pure avian chaos!
I happen to love reading and meditating on the 150 Psalms of the Old Testament, partly because the Psalms were written as hymns to be sung, and I happen to love to sing. As a nerdy lover of ‘high church’ liturgy (think of an Episcopal worship service or Roman Catholic mass), hearing a cantor during worship heightens my sense of the Divine that is present within the dance between melody and words. Especially cantors singing in the original Hebrew during worship at a synagogue. Gives me shivers of joy! Although I have never received training in canting, as part of my time meditating on a particular Psalm I will sometimes locate the Psalm in one of the four volumes of the Psalms I own set to music for Catholic mass, and sing it while accompanying myself on the piano. As I sing and play, I can imagine a cantor or a congregation, thousands of years ago, singing the very same Psalm; it may have occurred at a different time and place, but the same God of steadfast and everlasting love of this ancient Israelite congregation is listening to me, reveling in the joy of creating me as a singer of Psalms, in spite of my rusty, wobbly voice!
The Psalm I am studying this week--Psalm 138-- is a hymn sometimes attributed to King David, but was most likely written centuries after he lived. Like other Psalms placed at the end of the Book, Psalm 138 is considered a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. Here are a few of my observations gleaned from studying the hymn:
And this leads me to a small announcement: starting next week (gulp!), Catie and I are going to offer daily Facebook offerings based on the different parts of a worship service. After all, church doesn’t happen only on Sundays! Wednesdays I will be reading a Psalm, and then offer a couple minutes’ worth of reflections. Don’t worry--I won’t be canting the Psalm! Watch for our Facebook posts.