Psalm 118 again, 20 Apr 14

Alelujah from the Solesmes Gregorian Missal
Allelujahs from the Solesmes Gregorian Missal


Revisiting psalm 118 on Easter Sunday we recall, but will not sing again, the tune of last week, ‘This is the day, we will rejoice‘. Indeed a day of rejoicing, festival and hallelujahs. (Like the ones above? No we won’t sing those; and you may have noticed the illustration for the Arvo Pärt Berliner Messe was another variation we’ll not attempt.)

All SW Singers: we shall certainly sing our hallelujahs though. Please look at TiS 701 and join us for a short rehearsal – call for details.

The whole story

In the post for Palm Sunday some of the many themes circling within the orbit of this psalm were listed, with the observation that there’s much more of Psalm 118 than the processional song that day. How shall we capture all for Easter? Last year we used an Isaac Everett response and similar tone; and of course there are other options for the full text. Corner stoneWe shall hear the whole story on Easter Sunday when we sing for you all the set verses to an old Paul Stookey folk song called The building block. This picks up verse 22, in which:

The stone that the builders rejected (‘disallowed’ in KJV) has become the chief cornerstone

becoming in the song:

The building block that was rejected has become the corner stone of a brand new world

This foundational imagery, a long way from Easter eggs to be sure but no less, er… seminal, is not confined to the psalm. Isaiah is recorded as expanding the builder analogy, warning the rulers of the day:

See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: ‘One who trusts will not panic.’ And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet. (Is. 28:16)

Abbaye le Thoronet, c.1200All this was written long ‘BCE’, of course. But the idea is carried forward to the New Testament, with Jesus revealed as the stone in the first letter of Peter, appropriately enough as the apostle who was named ‘stone’:

To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word … But now you are God’s people … now you have received mercy.  (I Pet. 2:7-10)

Base of Roman columnAs with the Psalm 130 Sinead song recently, we follow the words of the psalm more closely than does Mr Stookie – so again no link. However, it’s another good sing presented, as the National Folk Festival rolls on not far away in Canberra, by some of our most experienced ‘folkies’.

2 thoughts on “Psalm 118 again, 20 Apr 14

  1. Thanks so much Brendan, I really enjoy the posts and your research and commentary. I plan to be at the practice tomorrow at 5. Dalma

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