The voice of God is a constant and powerful theme in this psalm — thundering over the mighty waters, shaking the wilderness, breaking cedars or flashing forth in flames. The psalmist (said to be David) assures us that through all the elemental turbulence of life, the divine spirit reigns supreme.
John Greenleaf Whittier‘s prayer “Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm” suggests the need to be attuned to the environment — natural, social and cultural, as well as the flow of our internal thoughts. Then, the psalmist seeks more than just hearing. The final verse of Psalm 29 is a prayer:
May God give strength to the people! May God bless them with peace!
This concluding prayer for peace suggests a familiar and beautifully harmonised Taizé chant as the antiphon: “Dona nobis pacem cordium, give to us peace in our hearts”. Sing it twice as a refrain. This song appears in Together in Song as 713, but with words drawn from several psalms other than 29. So the words from 29 can be added in a couple of different ways:
- With a little careful pointing, the text of this psalm falls into place to the same chords and basic tune of Jacques Berthier’s nice refrain. The engaging SATB harmony is worth spending time to rehearse with at least four voices.
- With some further juggling, the text might be paraphrased to fit the verse tune in TiS against the ostinato as suggested. This would be effective presented by a soloist acting as story-teller.
- [At South Woden, we follow the former idea.]
Here are some other refrains:
- Everett in TEP also homes in on this same very relevant prayer for peace for the modern world, in a lilting refrain over one of his typically inventive chord progressions, Ab Bm Db Fm Eb Db
- A lively song in PFAS 29B, by Lorenzo Florian 1985, is one of those attractive Spanish tunes with good plain harmony, including a few surprise chords, and a little swing.
- PFAS 29D has a choice of two short refrains and verses to a tone.
- A more conservative (and less inclusive) text with double tone and refrain (Willcock) is to be found in TiS 17.