Daily Archives: December 12, 2020

Be Thou Our Help In Trouble: A Response to Psalm 60

Psalm 60 is a prayer in time of crisis and it seems to speak very directly into our own situation. We too can say to God: Thou hast shewed thy people heavy things: thou hast given us a drink of deadly wine. And this psalm licences us to speak to God very directly about our troubles and to expect and rely on his help. The other striking thing about this psalm is the way it names particular places:

I will rejoice, and divide Sichem: and mete out the valley of Succoth.

Gilead is mine, and Manasses is mine: Ephraim also is the strength of my head; Judah is my law-giver;

Moab is my wash-pot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, be thou glad of me.

I have reflected that a little in my response to the psalm.

As always you can hear me read the psalm by clicking on the play button or the title.

These poems will all be gathered together and published on January 30th under the title David’s Crown. I am just working on the proofs now and there is already an amazon page for the book if you wish to pre-order it Here

LX Deus, repulisti nos

From my false self, O Lord, deliver me.
Where I am scattered gather me again,
Turn me to you once more, and turn to me,

For we have all been shaken. Soothe our pain
And heal the deep divisions, cruelly shown
By this sharp plague. All other help is vain,

So be our help. Our future’s all unknown
To us. We trust that you will meet us there,
Since all of time is in your hands, all known

And carried in your providence. Our prayer
Rises from every land, from Gillead
From Succoth, from New York, from places where

Your other names are spoken. All the sad
And sighing tribes of earth hold up their hands
Hear us, we cry, and once more, make us glad.

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In Memoriam XXVIII Tennyson

In Memoriam image by Linda Richardson In Memoriam image by Linda Richardson

The poem I have chosen for December the 12th in my Advent Anthology from Canterbury Press Waiting on the Word, is the first of two extracts from Tennyson’s great poem In Memoriam. You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. Once more the image above is a page from the Art journal which Linda Richardson kept in response to the poems in Waiting on the Word. she writes:

This is a very strange artwork, so if you are looking at it wondering, ‘What is this?’, you would be forgiven for thinking it strange too. However we sometimes miss the meaning in the things that happen to us because they don’t appear in the way we expect. I would, as much as possible, like to keep to the spirit of the art journal I made and include even this strange one. If you are responding to the poems by making or doing something, perhaps you too are dissatisfied by the outcome. It is a challenge sometimes to let it be what it is, so perhaps returning to it later you might be surprised to see a depth you didn’t notice at first.

The round forms dominate the image, floating, it seems in a blue haze. The forms are in two halves, ‘answering each other in the mist’. Some of the forms, ‘swell out and fail as if a door were shut between me and the sound’. The blue haze at the bottom of the image might be our unconsciousness where much is darkness and confusion. We barely understand why we behave in the way we do and why we react emotionally to seemingly small events. We wake from dreams, sometimes afraid or grieving for something we feel we have lost or missed. This is an image of contrasts speaking to each other, of sorrow and joy, sleeping and waking, peace and pain. Are the strange round forms waiting to rise out of the blue of unconsciousness? What will lift them up to the light?   ‘The moon is hid: the night is still’. Do you sense the stillness of the round forms that are perhaps brooding egg shapes, waiting for new birth? ‘Be still and know….’

You can find a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle

In Memoriam XXVIII

The time draws near the birth of Christ:

The moon is hid; the night is still;

The Christmas bells from hill to hill

Answer each other in the mist.

Four voices of four hamlets round,

From far and near, on mead and moor,

Swell out and fail, as if a door

Were shut between me and the sound:

Each voice four changes on the wind,

That now dilate, and now decrease,

Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,

Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

This year I slept and woke with pain,

I almost wish’d no more to wake,

And that my hold on life would break

Before I heard those bells again:

But they my troubled spirit rule,

For they controll’d me when a boy;

They bring me sorrow touch’d with joy,

The merry merry bells of Yule.

If you would like to encourage and support this blog, you might like, on occasion, (not every time of course!) to pop in and buy me a cup of coffee. Clicking on this banner will take you to a page where you can do so, if you wish. But please do not feel any obligation!

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