Psalm 52, 21 July 2019

Psalm 52 can sound vindictive and unforgiving when encountered outside its historical setting. Fortunately, the preamble refers to Doeg and Saul, thereby providing the requisite clues. Doeg, like his boss Saul it seems, was an unsavoury character. Both had it in for David… Read on in a previous entry…

The psalmist seeks divine intervention against those who love evil and wealth, and warns against ‘the deceitful tongue’. in some ways, this is the obverse of the picture in Psalm 1 , which encourages people not to walk in the ways of the wicked.

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This week we try a setting not previously sung at South Woden, that in Psalms for All Seasons 52B. Part of the attraction is that it uses the nice idea in verse 8 as the antiphonal refrain:

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.

This one is a thousand years old.

The olive tree has found a permanent place as a staple and friend of villagers and householders in many places. Here, it is seen as a reliable source of goodness and endurance, situated not just on any old hillside but ‘in the house of God’.

Sometimes at South Woden, verses are scanned or paraphrased to fit the tune of the refrain. This technique usually provides a rather more melodic and interesting result than a chanting tone or mode. On this occasion, however, in the interests of variety and harmony, verses will be sung to the tone provided in PFAS.

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