Tag Archives: psalms

Defend the Poor And Fatherless: A Response to Psalm 82

Palm 82 is one of those challenging, but ultimately encouraging psalms about God’s Justice. The psalm sets out the fact and character of God’s Judgement unequivocally:

  1. GOD standeth in the congregation of princes: he is a Judge among gods.
  2. How long will ye give wrong judgement: and accept the persons of the ungodly?
  3. Defend the poor and fatherless: see that such as are in need and necessity have right.
  4. Deliver the outcast and poor: save them from the hand of the ungodly.

My response to this psalm was written at a time when both the Black Lives Matter movement and the social inequalities exposed and brought to the light by the covid pandemic were challenging our complacency and calling for a prophetic Christian response, and I once more felt how relevant these ancient psalms are to our everyday life.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

The full set of these poems has now been published as a book David’s Crown which you can buy from UK Amazon Here, or, in North America, it should soon be available from Amazon Here.

There is also going to be a launch event/webinar on Feb 11th at 7pm GMT it will be completely free and you can register for it Here.

LXXXII Deus stetit

For things are not so hopeless as they seem

God stands among the rulers as a judge.

He has no partiality.  We deem

 

Ourselves better than others, hold a grudge

Against the stranger in our midst, reject

The ones who aren’t like us, but he will judge

 

The world in righteousness. He will reject

The special pleading of the privileged.

And bless the meek instead. If we reflect

 

A little, in this earthly pilgrimage,

On how he loved the ‘other’ and the outcast

Then we will learn to share our heritage,

 

Not keep it only for our kin and caste,

But gather as the children of one king,

As kindred in our father’s house at last.

 

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The Lovely New Moon Shining: a Response To Psalm 81

After the sorrow and lamentation expressed in psalms 79 and 80, psalm 81 comes us a beautiful moment of uplift, with the sound of trumpets and the clear shining beauty of the new moon:

  1. SING we merrily unto God our strength: make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob.
  2. Take the psalm, bring hither the tabret: the merry harp with the lute.
  3. Blow up the trumpet in the new-moon: even in the time appointed, and upon our solemn feast-day.

Then the psalm looks back to all that God had done for Israel in the past, how he had ‘eased their shoulder from the burden’ and that renewed memory of grace gives the psalmist confidence for the future. My response to this psalm follows a similar pattern, and like the psalmist I have found that the beautiful clarity of the moon shining high above our passing troubles, becomes a symbol of hope.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

The full set of these poems has now been published as a book David’s Crown which you can buy from UK Amazon Here, or, in North America, it should soon be available from Amazon Here.

There is also going to be a launch event/webinar on Feb 11th at 7pm GMT it will be completely free and you can register for it Here.

LXXXI Exultate Deo

Till shadows flee at last, and sorrows cease

Come down and ease our shoulders from the burden

To give our straining hearts some soft release,

 

Lest from sheer weariness they shrink and harden.

Refresh us with the memory of grace,

Remind us of your mercy, of that pardon

 

You won for us forever from the cross.

Then we will lift a lighter song to you

And glimpse beyond our loneliness and loss

 

The lovely new moon shining, and the true

Signs of the kingdom coming, where they gleam 

And kindle in the east, still showing through

 

This present darkness, even as a dream

Of light before the dawn. Send us a sign

That things are not so hopeless as they seem.

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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The Bread Of Tears: A Response To Psalm 80

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.

The full set of these poems has now been published as a book David’s Crown which you can buy from UK Amazon Here, or, in North America, it should soon be available from Amazon Here.

There is also going to be a launch event/webinar on Feb 11th at 7pm GMT it will be completely free and you can register for it Here.

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

LXXX Qui regis Israel

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.

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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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.

 

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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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.

 

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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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.

 

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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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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Hymn Before Sunrise by ST Coleridge

Image by Linda Richardson Image by Linda Richardson

For January 4th in my  Anthology from Canterbury PressWaiting on the Word, I have chosen to read a passage from A Hymn before Sunrise in the vale of Chamouni by ST Coleridge.

You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. The image above was created by Linda Richardson for her book of responses to Waiting on the Word, she writes:

Anyone who has ever had a “glance” of God wants to share the experience. It is like running home to show your family the beautiful butterfly you have captured in your cupped hands but when you get there it has escaped and all you have are impressions and words. In the gospel of John we hear Andrew’s response after he meets Jesus: “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.”

Words and images have power to point to an experience but they aren’t the experience itself. What we really want to do is bring people to experience what we have experienced, to bring them to Jesus like Andrew brought his brother, (to bring them to the Holy Mountain). In my little painting, the mountain sits above the words, the words point to the mountain. God’s promise is that if we seek, we will find. Talking about God is good but if we don’t also open ourselves to be transformed by the experience of God, (Rise, O ever rise..), we remain in doctrine and dogma which, although essential, only has the power to point.

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

from The Hymn before Sunrise, in the Vale of Chamouni   Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Ye Ice-falls! ye that from the mountain’s brow

Adown enormous ravines slope amain—

Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,

And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge!

Motionless torrents! silent cataracts!

Who made you glorious as the gates of Heaven

Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun

Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers

Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet?—

God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,

Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!

God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!

Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!

And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,

And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!

Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost!

Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle’s nest!

Ye eagles, play-mates of the mountain-storm!

Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds!

Ye signs and wonders of the element!

Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise!

Thou too, hoar Mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks,

Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,

Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene

Into the depth of clouds, that veil thy breast—

Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou

That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low

In adoration, upward from thy base

Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears,

Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud,

To rise before me—Rise, O ever rise,

Rise like a cloud of incense from the Earth!

Thou kingly Spirit throned among the hills,

Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven,

Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky,

And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun,

Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.

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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