Here we find the psalmist singing with pure delight at the creation and how the divine spirit cares for and sustains its every aspect — and this is no release clause from our responsibilities to avoid long-term damage to the environment:
Send forth your spirit, and they are created; you renew the face of the earth. (v. 30)
A compelling picture emerges of the psalmist standing on a shore, looking out over the wide seas and imagining the creatures great and small that dwell therein. He declares that they are not only created but sustained by the divine spirit.
The psalmist finally determines to sing in thanks for his whole life, an example which might usefully inspire us.
[Previous posts convey more impressions of this relatively long song — go to the Index page to see links to each post. Beware, though: the Lectionary dishes up different sections according to the season; this reading is vv. 24-35.]
Together in Song offers a positive and singable refrain based on verse 30 quoted above, striking a relevant chord, so to speak, about conservation and the need to renew not only the physical environment but also human social and moral conditions. The verses in TiS are not those in the Lectionary selection. Replace them with the relevant verses, adding pointing according to the double tone provided as shown:
Yonder is the sea ‘ great and wide,
with its living things innumerable, both ‘ great and small
There ‘ go the ships,
the Leviathan that you ‘ made for sport.
The refrain in NCH is rather plain and the text verse 24, when plucked out of its surrounds, seems similarly anodyne. “O God how manifold are your works” is no doubt cause for praise as far as it goes. But implied in the statement hides the question, answered in the psalm: “So what?” The TiS refrain is more of a call for action, by Holy Spirit and ourselves alike.
Speaking of verse 24, if you wish to add a little colour and happen to have four men or more to take on a TTBB, try this:
A reminder to Canberra area readers of the concert this Sunday presenting a Palestrina mass and all seven of the Penitential psalms.
This is a truly unique opportunity for psalm singers and listeners alike.