This psalm of praise calls us to be happy in the creation and this evidence of divine caring. Sure enough, we are to pull out our lyres again in order to sing those praises (v.7). Bring yours on Sunday.
Recalling the Hospitals Chaplain’s words last week, almost in continuity the Psalm reminds us:
God heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds (v. 3)
Either in unnervingly sudden shifts of focus, or perhaps in a visionary sweep of the universe, the psalm alternates between the lowest and the highest, the present day to the distant past; reassurance of the bruised and outcast — who are urged to ‘count your blessings and name them one by one’ as the old song would have it — to wonder at counting the stars and naming them one by one.
God determines the number of the stars; and gives to all of them their names. (vv 3, 4)
Tomas Luis de Victoria‘s setting of this psalm would be appropriate if singers were available. Laude Ierusalem, Salmo de Vísperas No. 6 is a series of short sections that, in the vespers service, would be be sung as antiphons between readings or prayers. Outside the vespers context it could be used to inspirational effect as incidental music.
This Victoria motet is in Latin of course: ‘Lauda Deum tuum Sion’. Further, Psalm 147 in the old Vulgate numbering system begins with verse 12. The lectionary selection (vv.1 – 11) in an English setting is preferred.
Together in Song No 92 covers most of the set verses and, being by John Bell, is a pretty sound. However, relishing that idea of naming each of the myriad stars (and in the interests of brevity), the planned refrain is an arrangement of an early composition by Isaac Everett in The emergent psalter.
Who has not stood outside on a clear night — on a balcony, camping in the bush away from city lights, or on the deck of a boat anchored in a quiet haven — and wondered at the constellations? This refrain reaches towards that feeling:
Jehovah with immeasurable wisdom calls each star by name