Psalm 34, 25 Oct 15

Fire and waterThis week’s readings are all about restoration after being pulled backwards through that briar bush.

Job in the OT reading is happy and rich again and has lots of sheep and children.

To add to the sense of drama, the storyteller just has to point out that even Job’s three beautiful daughters receive a portion of his wealth. Revolutionary!

The psalms — 34 and 126 this week — sum it up well:

God redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in God will be condemned. (Ps 126:22)

Or even more positively:

O taste and see that God is good; happy are those who take refuge there.


The last time we sang Psalm 34 we used a simple locally-composed refrain using the ‘Taste and see’ theme.

And as for 126 I must ignore a long-term hankering to sing the melifluous setting by T L di VictoriaNisi Dominus: Psalmo di víspera no 9. But we recall with pleasure that our men (looking strong and serious and trying to sound like authentic Volga boatmen of deep resonant Russian male voice tradition — Rachmaninoff assumed the third bassi profundi could belt out a low B flat, eg in the All night vigil) rolled out this Orthodox-style setting:

When God restored the fortunes of Zion / then were we like those who dream (v. 1)


Ghostly play

Look at that music again. Every time I try to upload this little gem from somewhere in the cloud (read ‘my well-organised Psalms library on Dropbox’), it somehow appears outside in and front to back. What is it with these devices?

Select a soundThis reminds me that when I was learning the flute and playing trios and quartets over again, after a while we would start hearing what came next instead of reading — a pitfall for those who improvise and play by ear. So we would then turn the music upside-down and play on. I assure you, the harmonic progressions are then anything but predictable. Makes you read the dots.

Anyway, I truly believe there is a subliminal message there. When I, far from home on the road in the northern hemishphere (currently Berlin), upload an arrangement lovingly crafted in the southern hemisphere, Coriolis spits the dummy, things spin backwards, LP records flush the other way, and that’s what you get.

Pushmi-pullyu? Which way is backwards?

Maybe it’s a reminder that the first shall be last, the proud shall be brought low, divine ways are higher than ours, Job finally gets the nod.

No end of techo whizzery can adjust these matters. As Ben Meyers says in a recent post:

Forget greatness. Didn’t Jesus? Redefine power as vulnerability. Didn’t Jesus? Reject the ways of manipulation, coercion, certainly violence, and the speed that is often the fuel of violence – festina lente. Didn’t Jesus?

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