Tag Archives: psalm

I Will Remember: A Response To Psalm 77

Psalm 77 is supremely a psalm of memory: the psalmist in their present distress remembers the great deeds of God in the past as well as their own times of personal deliverance and is able to take comfort and hope for the future. I find verses 5 and 6 especially moving:

I have considered the days of old: and the years that are past.

I call to remembrance my song: and in the night I commune with mine own heart, and search out my spirits.

So, as you will see in my response, this psalm has been a prompt to me to look back on my life and trace the way God has held me through dark times and never let me go.

These poems will all be gathered together and published on January 30th under the title David’s Crown.  There is already an Amazon page for the book if you wish to pre-order it Here

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

LXVII Voce mea ad Dominum

As heaven’s mercy falls like gentle rain.

I lift my face and let it wash me clean.

In all my times of trouble, darkness, pain,

 

I cry to him. I come to him and lean

Again into the comfort of his grace

And I remember all that he has been

 

To me in all my years of life. I trace

Once more the story of his love:

He sought me even when I turned my face

 

Away from him, descended from above

And found me in my hiding place. His might

Broke up my clouds of darkness, and he strove

 

Against the waves of chaos, in the night

Of my affliction, when he recued me

And led me out of darkness into light.

 

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Weapons Fail: A Response To Psalm 76

Psalm 76 from the Parma Psalter

Psalm 76 is a psalm of hope for the peace makers, for it says that the coming of the Lord will bring an end to human violence and reduce our weapons to nothing: There brake he the arrows of the bow: the shield, the sword, and the battle. and again: The fierceness of man shall turn to thy praise: and the fierceness of them shalt thou refrain. As you will see these are themes I have also drawn out in my poetic response to this psalm.

These poems will all be gathered together and published on January 30th under the title David’s Crown.  There is already an Amazon page for the book if you wish to pre-order it Here

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

LXXVI Notus in Judaea

We lift the cup of blessing, life and hope

To one whose name has leapt from Israel

To circle all the world, who opens up

 

His heart to every nation.  Weapons fail;

The sword and shield will rust; the tank and gun

Must come to nothing. Every dark betrayal

 

Of peace will come to judgment. For the one

Upon the throne will vindicate the meek

And turn our fierceness into praise: The Son

 

Of God, become the Son of Man. The weak

Will find their strength in him. He will restrain

The men of violence, but all who seek

 

Their peace in him will find it. And the stain

Of our blood-guiltiness will wash away

As heaven’s mercy falls like gentle rain.

 

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Like Dew Upon The Grass: A Response To Psalm 72

Psalm 72 is one of the great prophetic psalms about the coming of the Messiah as a king who will bring justice and peace. A Prophecy whose fulfilment begins at Christmas but which will only be fulfilled completely on the last day. The lovely verse about his gentle coming in the nativity: ‘He shall come down like the rain into a fleece of wool: even as the drops that water the earth,’ found its way into the beautiful mediaeval carol ‘I Sing Of A Maiden:

He came all so still
Where his mother was
As dew in April
That falleth on the grass.

My poetic response to the psalm echoes the carol but also picks up on the great Hope for the coming of Christ’s peaceable kingdom which runs through the whole 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.  There is already an Amazon page for the book if you wish to pre-order it Here

LXXII Deus, judicium

 


Another psalm to praise your light and life

Another song of longing for the King

Who is to come, whose coming ends all strife,

 


Who will defend the poor, descend and bring

With him the saints in glory and a new

Heaven and Earth.  And then those saints will sing

 


Their triumph song, and all that’s tried and true

Will live again beyond the reach of death.

Yet he has come already, like the dew

 


Upon the grass, borne on the quiet breath

Of God’s own Spirit, Christ the saviour came

To Bethlehem, like rain on the good earth

 


And those who met his love and learned his name

Became like him and kept this hope alive

That one day the whole world would live in him.

 

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Make Haste to Helps Me: A Response to Psalm 70

Psalm 70 is a short simple cry for help!

  1. HASTE thee, O God, to deliver me: make haste to help me, O Lord.

Sometimes its just a phrase or an image in a psalm that triggers my poem in response, and in this case it was just the phrase ‘seek after my soul’ in the first half of the second verse: ‘Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul’. It seems to me that we, in the developed west live in a culture that ministers every comfort to the body but persistently and insidiously seeks to mock, belittle and choke off the life of the soul, and so my poem addresses that issue and asks God for help in defending that imperilled spiritual life.

As I am posting this in the Christmas season I was delighted to find that the Mainz illuminated psalter had illustrated this psalm with the Christmas angels telling the shepherds that God had indeed come down to answer their prayers

As always you can hear me read the poem 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

LXX Deus, in adjutorium
 
Pour out for me the life-blood of your heart
For my own life is ebbing to a close.
Make haste to help me, come and heal my hurt,
 
Come down O lord and rescue me from those
Who seek to sow confusion in my soul,
From those who patronise the faithful, those
 
Who humour our religion, but whose whole
Approach to life dismisses faith and prayer.
Yet you continue holy. You will heal
 
The deep wounds in our culture: its despair,
Its idols and addictions, its rejection
Of your gospel. In your mercy spare
 
This weary world, descending to dejection,
And come as our redeemer, quickly come
And raise us with you in your resurrection.

 

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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Thou Visitest The Earth: a response to psalm 65

I particularly love psalm 65, not least for its long and rich associations with Harvest festivals and the beautiful anthem setting of its words: a distillation of rich and abundant goodness:

thou that makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to praise thee.

Thou visitest the earth, and blessest it: thou makest it very plenteous.

The river of God is full of water: thou preparest their corn, for so thou providest for the earth.

Thou waterest her furrows, thou sendest rain into the little valleys thereof: thou makest it soft with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase of it.

Thou crownest the year with thy goodness: and thy clouds drop fatness.

In making my own response to this harvest psalm I wanted to bring in the distinctly Christian sense that the valleys’ standing so thick with corn that they shall laugh and sing’ in this psalm, are a symbolic anticipation of the resurrection, since Christ compares his death and resurrection to the sowing and germination of a single grain, and Paul describes his resurrection as ‘ the first-fruits of those who sleep’

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

LXV Te decet hymnus
 
Lord in your shining wisdom, make us wise.
Morning and evening turn to you in praise,
Your glory stands where steadfast mountains rise.
 
Your presence girds us like the sea. The days
Arrive as gifts from you. The starlit nights
All manifest the beauty of your ways.
 
Your love touches the earth itself, alights
Not just in rain and growth and plenteousness
Or in the crowning goodness, which delights
 
The eye at harvest, but you visit us
And bless us far more deeply in your Son
Who came, a grain of wheat, sown deep for us
 
Into the furrowed grave, planted alone
That we might die and rise again with him
In the rich valley of the resurrection.

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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Preserve Us, Hide Us, Hold Us: A Response to Psalm 64

Whilst still in the midst of our Christmas sequence of postsI am nevertheless resuming the thread of my sequence of poems responding to the psalms – David’s Crown. We have come now to Psalm 64, which is a simple plea for protection:

  1. HEAR my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
  2. Hide me from the gathering together of the froward: and from the insurrection of wicked doers;

One of its underlying metaphors is that of archery; in verses 43 and 4 the psalmist feels as though he is the target of hidden archers – and we all know that feeling, to be suddenly struck and hurt from an unexpected quarter whether is is a physical mishap or an emotional ambush,- we cry out for help as the psalmist does and look for some way of shielding ourselves. But then the metaphor turns, and in verse 7 the psalmist asks for God himself to be the archer, this time shooting in our defence. All this has entered into my own contemporary poetic response tooth’s 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

LXIV Exaudi, Deus

Our hearts desire our risen lord and king,
And in our exile here we call to him:
‘Preserve us, hide us, hold us in the ring

Of your protecting love. For there are grim
Assailants round us, setting secret snares.
And when our lights are low, our vision dim

We tumble into trouble unawares
As this world’s traps and trappings snag our feet.
We stumble, all encumbered by its cares,

And soon the arrows pierce us; we retreat
From our first faith, we veer and compromise,
Despair of progress and accept defeat.

Hear us and rescue us. O Lord arise,
Shoot back for us with flaming darts of truth
And in your shining wisdom, make us wise’.

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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My Soul Shall Be Satisfied: A Response to Psalm 63

After the pain and struggle of some of the preceding psalms, psalm 63 gives us at last a glimpse of healing and fulfilment. Its starts with spiritual thirst and longing:

  1. O GOD, thou art my God: early will I seek thee.

  2. My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh also longeth after thee: in a barren and dry land where no water is.

Then the longing itself leads to a foretaste of fulfilment and a moment of true spiritual blessing:

For thy loving-kindness is better than the life itself: my lips shall praise thee.

As long as I live will I magnify thee on this manner: and lift up my hands in thy Name.

My soul shall be satisfied, even as it were with marrow and fatness: when my mouth praiseth thee with joyful lips.

My poem in response echoes this and is at once a lament for the transience in the midst of which we live, and also a glimpse of the true and eternal life into which we are called.

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

LXIII Deus, Deus meus

For love lifts time into eternity,
Kisses each passing moment into life,
Gives us a glimpse of your unfading glory.

We fall away like every falling leaf
But even as we fall we yearn to you.
Our prayers are passing and our blessings brief,

Yet each one reaches deeply into you
For you yourself are reaching into us
To breathe your life in us and make us new:

The barren wasteland is made glorious
With blossoms, breathing an eternal spring
And even as this first world fades from us,

We step into the true world and we sing
A joyful song, for there at last we see
Our heart’s desire: our risen lord and king.

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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To Wait Upon Your Word: A Response toPsalm 62

Psalm 62 seems a particularly appropriate psalm to read and pray through during Advent, a season of waiting, of prayerful anticipation, for the psalm opens:

  1. MY SOUL truly waiteth still upon God: for of him cometh my salvation.

  2. He verily is my strength and my salvation: he is my defence, so that I shall not greatly fall.

And so in my poem, which will appear in my next book David’s Crown, I allude obliquely to the title of my current Advent Book Waiting On The Word:

Draw back the veil until my spirit sings
And teach me how to wait upon your word,
Content beneath the shadow of your wings,

Gathering strength in you

The psalm makes a clear and simple contrast between the certain strength we find in God, and the wavering uncertainties of the world, which is compared to a tottering wall and a broken hedge. This is true as far as it goes but of course the Christian praying this psalm brings another insight to bear: this world for all its brokenness and vanity is still the world that God so loved that he gave his only son to save it. So we must learn  to love it with him, and long for its redemption, even as we try not to be snared in the traps and trappings of its present fallen state, and that is the balance and paradox I seek to explore in my poetic response.

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

LXII Nonne Deo?

Draw back the veil until my spirit sings
And teach me how to wait upon your word,
Content beneath the shadow of your wings,

Gathering strength in you, until I’ve heard
The word that sends me back into the world
With all its tottering walls, with all its scarred

And ruined landscapes, raggèd flags unfurled,
Its broken promises, and compromises,
The world you love and suffer for, the world

You lift to God, the world that still devises
Its own destruction, in its vanity
Selling its living soul for passing prizes.

I am to love this world as tenderly
As you do, to risk everything for love,
For love lifts time into eternity.

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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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.

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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Hard Questions: A Response To Psalm 58

Psalm 58 asks us some hard questions:

  1. ARE your minds set upon righteousness, O ye congregation: and do ye judge the thing that is right, O ye sons of men?

In my poetic response to the psalm I take this opening verse as a prompt for self examination and to bring before God the gap between my practice and my prayer. 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

LVIII Si vere utique

And even here I’ll sing, for day is dawning,
Although I know some of my deeds are dark.
The psalmist asks hard questions, and the yawning

Gap between my prayer and practice, work
And words, has been exposed in scripture’s light.
Where have I set my mind?  How do I shirk

The good work he has given me? The right
Way is always open, do I follow?
Or do I stop my ears? Or make some slight

Progress at a snail’s pace, my hollow
Protestations shown for what they are
Even as I make them? Come and hallow

My poor ground again, come and repair
The ruin of my efforts to do well,
The breach between my practice and my prayer.

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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