Psalm 80 is a psalm of lament, a cry for relief uttered from the depth of sorrow and weariness:
Turn us again, O God: shew the light of thy countenance, and we shall be whole.
O Lord God of hosts: how long wilt thou be angry with thy people that prayeth?
Thou feedest them with the bread of tears: and givest them plenteousness of tears to drink.
In this bleak January, well into our third lockdown, with no end in sight, and so many cruelly taken from us by the disease, we all feel what it is to have been given ‘plenteousness of tears to drink’, and I felt it even back in the first lockdown in May when I wrote my own poem of lament in response to this psalm. But the psalm ends with a turning point, ‘ turn us again O Lord’, and so does my poem.
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As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title.
Lord hear our sighs and bring us swift release
For we have nothing left to us but tears,
No light, no joy, no strength, no health, no peace,
Only the strife, the dread, the strain, the fears
Of these dark times. Oh turn to us again,
Show us once more the mercy of those years
When you were forming us. Remember when
You called us out of exile, planted us
As your own vineyard. Was it all in vain
The way you tended us and nurtured us
That we might bear good fruit in joy and peace?
We have born bitter fruit, but come to us
And help us start again. Come and release
With your right hand the grace we have refused,
Till shadows flee at last, and sorrows cease.
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