Just like last week, Psalm 63 for Lent 3 holds familiar words and imagery, water this time rather than light:
You are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Ps. 63:1)
The preceding lectionary reading from the Old Testament tells us it’s all free and free for all:
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! (Is. 55:1)
And just in case we missed the point, the NT epistle clarifies:
Our ancestors … drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ (I Cor. 10:1, 4)
It’s interesting that the title of this psalms is ‘For David when he was in the wilderness’.
Henry Purcell‘s lovely anthem Thou knowest Lord the secrets of our hearts, still ringing in our ears from last week (we shall hear it sung again by our male voice quartet on Lent 5) reminds us that he also wrote a setting for Psalm 63 titled O God thou art my God. Whereas last week’s short piece was homophonic, syllables all sung together by the four parts, this longer piece starts that way but then becomes more contrapuntal. Hassler also wrote a nice setting for six voices a century earlier.
The Carers Group leads the worship with their usual accessible and thoughtful approach. This is a great psalm for them as they unobtrusively bring cool water to our people in the deserts of suffering.
No striking of rocks is involved; just listening (theme word this week) for the the cry of the dry and the sound of water. Footprints progress. The ritual of the stones continues, accompanied by that alto flute pretending to be Gabriel’s oboe.
- Psalms for all seasons only has one responsive setting — nice, the refrain being a little longer than our usual practice.
- TiS has a congregational hymn rather than a responsive song.
- Isaac Everett, commenting that the psalm ‘ … reflects a very physical, embodied and sensual sort of spirituality’, offers a simple tune in E minor.
Today we assemble a small group to support the carers by singing a simple version of our ‘Communion chant’, one that we used sometimes for the first Sunday of the month. The refrain is simple on mi-re-doh:
My soul thirsts for God, the living God.