Daily Archives: December 30, 2020

Jubilate Deo: A Response To Psalm 66

Psalm 66, the great Jubilate Deo, continues the note of delighted praise which was sounded in psalm 65:

O BE joyful in God, all ye lands: sing praises unto the honour of his Name, make his praise to be glorious.

But the very next verse makes it clear that the praise of God and his goodness is itself a radical critique of all that is false and self- aggrandising in this world:

Say unto God, O how wonderful art thou in thy works: through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies be found liars unto thee.

I have tried to draw out both these elements in my response to this psalm, though the ringing tone of my poem is also a response to the joy of singing this psalm as an anthem over so many years.

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

LXVI Jubilate Deo
 
In the rich valley of the resurrection
The jubilate deo will resound
A jubilant rejoicing in perfection.
 
But even here the echo of that sound
Of perfect praise enriches our brief song,
A canticle that’s taken up around
 
The world. The voices of the weak are strong
In God’s enduring praise. He knows their cause,
And he will vindicate the poor, who long
 
To see his justice come and his good laws
Prevail at last. Till then their jubilation
Will shake the powers that be and give them pause
 
To tremble in the midst of exploitation
And glimpse in others all the joy they’ve missed,
Till love himself comes as a revelation.

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Christmas (1) by George Herbert

image by Linda Richardson

image by Linda Richardson

In my  Anthology from Canterbury Press Waiting on the Word.The poem I have chosen for December 30th, is  Christmas (1a remarkable sonnet by George Herbert in which he imagines discovering Jesus in a local Inn. You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. the image above was created by Linda Richardson. She writes:

If you are feeling over indulged and replete with food and drink, this is the poem for you. Once again we return to the truth that even while we are far off, perhaps like the prodigal son, eating, drinking and over indulging, there is always a summons to examine our conscience, to look beyond the ‘fling and bling’, as Malcolm often describes this aspect of Christmas. The image for today is a very simple watercolour: a lone figure walks towards a simple shelter from which a radiant light emanates. The light comes from above and radiates out of the shelter where Christ is born, towards the figure. The figure walks towards the light, leaving behind a long dark shadow.

The history of the people of the Bible and of Christianity is stained by the corrupt idea that God is like us, full of disapproval and ready to punish. This idea keeps us away from God and we might even think that we are so bad, we might as well be a little more bad because truly, we have blown it with God. This is our ego talking, and if we listen to it we will find only self blame, self punishment and self loathing. The image tells us that we can turn at any moment and walk into the mystery of love and presence. It is not for us to perfect ourselves before we turn, God is the one who redeems. ‘You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” (Annie Dillard)

You can find you can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button

Christmas (1)

After all pleasures as I rid one day,

My horse and I, both tir’d, bodie and minde,

With full crie of affections, quite astray,

I took up in the next inne I could finde,

There when I came, whom found I but my deare,

My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief

Of pleasures brought me to him, readie there

To be all passengers most sweet relief?

O Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light,

Wrapt in night’s mantle, stole into a manger;

Since my dark soul and brutish is thy right,

To Man of all beasts be not thou a stranger:

Furnish & deck my soul, that thou mayst have

A better lodging than a rack or grave.

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