Psalm 130, 1 July 18

Whales off Bribie
Whales playing off Bribie Island

This psalm is another song of ascent (psalms 120 to 134). It’s also the sixth of seven penitential psalms.

The song is a statement of the mystery not only of the human condition, with all its faults and frustrations, but also of our access to grace. The psalm asks for forgiveness and redemption for Israel, though in modern context it clearly has a wider application The first verses get right to it. In Sinead’s version:

Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord; don’t let my cries for mercy be ignored.

The idea of ascent, especially from the depths of a low point in life, is a powerful reflection of common experience.

Cover page of a Lassus part-book for the Penitential Psalms, published 1584

🎵

Much has been written about music and text in previous posts, including a rendition last month of the lovely setting by Lassus, discussed in the Penitential pages. So we move on.

Sinead has some nice lines in her version mentioned above, from the album Theology:

And I’ve heard religion say you’re to be feared
But I don’t buy into everything I hear

Good as the lyrics are, they stray far from the psalm. It’s easy to retrofit the words or a paraphrase to her simple two chord structure. The instrumental interlude, with a nice variation in the chord progression, is a nice addition.

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