Psalm 8, 22 May 2016

In the cosmology of Psalm 8, as in many others, humankind is a jewel of creation, somewhat smaller than the universe —  ‘a little lower than the angels’ — yet ‘adorned with glory and honour’ (v.5).

Significantly, the creation is placed under our care (v. 6), a responsibility that is not absolved by the loss of the Garden of Eden, however one interprets that tale. As Prof. Tom Wright says:

The four winds and more, traditional namesThough the psalmists were aware as anyone of the darkness within the human heart, Psalm 8 can still gloriously remind us of the human vocation.(1)

The fact that civilisations over the centuries have named natural phenomena from the constellations to the winds, (2) building tales and myths around them, indicates our empathy and sense of symbiosis in a universal search for the Dreamtime.

Music

This is the first psalm in the psalter in which an integral antiphon appears in the text, in the form of an opening and closing doxology that has little to do with the content of the song itself:

O God our sovereign, how great is your Name in all the earth. (verses 1 and 9)

Familiar names including Hassler, Schütz, Gabrielli, Lassus, Purcell and Ravenscroft all line up with classical settings; a popular poem, manageable length, and good content for the composer, or so it seems.

The inattentive visitor looking up at the vaulted cathedral of Siena might step on this simple but beautiful marble unawares. A wondering Mary?

Our choice again (please read the post for Trinity Sunday 2014) is a lovely song by Linnea Good, The Height of Heaven.

Our women will lead this refrain, between bending their pure voices to an antiphonal tone which follows a similar attractive chord pattern.

Ps8 Linnea

Notes:

  1. N T Wright, Finding God in the Psalms, SPCK London 2014, page 50
  2. Illustration: La rose des Vents Provençeaux, traditional names of the winds from all points of the compass in Provence; from a plaque in Orange, France.

2 thoughts on “Psalm 8, 22 May 2016

  1. Pingback: Psalm 61 | Psalms in the South

  2. Pingback: Psalm 148, 1 January 2107 | Psalms in the South

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s