After a couple of opening verses of Psalm 118 proclaiming divine goodness and mercy, the lectionary (liturgy of the palms) cuts to the second half. As Jesus enters the gates of Jerusalem, so here:
Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them and praise God. (v. 19)
That corner stone now appears. The stone that was rejected became the chief cornerstone of a new world of faith, a new system of justice and life. There is not always a keystone at the top of arches, like the entrance depicted in the first photograph, but it’s common enough.
In the next photo of an old farmhouse, the corner blocks are evidently larger and act as bonding keystones in the corner of the old building. Either way, something has a central role of chief cornerstone in holding a structure together. Several oft-quoted lines follow:
This is the day that God has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (v.24)
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God (v.26)
Give thanks to God, whose mercy endures forever (v.29
Oh! and don’t forget that it’s Palm Sunday:
Form a procession with branches (v. 27)
Whether we need a double helping or not, the liturgy of the passion for the same day serves up another set of readings, including Psalm 31. This is one of those cries for help in times of deep distress. I shall say no more at this stage, there being a previous post on the subject, other than to declare an allegiance to the beautiful and thoughtful two-part antiphonal setting in Psalms for all seasons 31C by AnnaMae Meyer Bush and Kathleen Hart Brumm. We sometimes sing both psalms, 118 on the way in with branches.
I’ve mentioned PFAS 31C above. As always the choice of music depends on a leader’s chosen theme. Thus:
- if the corner stone is preferred as a symbol of establishing a new regime of grace, the choice could be TiS 74 or, as we have sung many times at South Woden, The Building Block by Peter Paul and Mary
- If the eternal goodness and love of God is preferred, the refrain from The emergent psalter would suit — as long as you don’t mind a little music with a groove.
- And 31 is hope and help in time of trouble.
Psalm 118 is also a reading for Easter, so there are a swag of settings in Psalms for all seasons to choose from. Canberra group Polifemy will sing a varied early music program with recorders, including William Byrd’s lively setting of this psalm Haec dies this Sunday at Wesley UC, 3pm.