Crystal Ball; May 2020.

Crystal ball, by J Waterhouse. Image Wikimedia commons

The Crystal Ball drafted a month or so ago was not much use to people who are now so ‘distanced’. Like so many of our best-laid plans, it’s in the bin.

Several beautiful poems and songs are coming up for the set psalms. Regrettably, singing together is largely out of reach at present. Selections have been modified accordingly.

19 Apr 20. Psalm 16. Like the twenty-third, this is a psalm of trust and protection in divine presence, the source of goodness and guidance. David describes God as his portion and cup, evoking familiar imagery in themes that connect well with daily life even in isolation. Almost as decoration, since we can’t bend lusty voices to it, here’s a little snippet from a classical piece.

Detail of a section of Psalm 16 (15 in Vulgate) by Lassus

The weekly post on this psalm will suggest a couple of good listening tracks, including a nice old hymn called When in the night I meditate, to the tune  MAITLAND by G N Allen. Many will recognise this as Precious Lord, take my hand. If you have Psalms for All Seasons at home, it is found at 16A.

Pascal L’Estocart

26 Apr 20. Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19. We leap forward a hundred psalms from last week’s 16 to find a paean of thanks for deliverance from the power of darkness and the hold of the grave. So the psalmist resolves to walk in the divine presence in the land of the living. (v.9) 

A refrain by Hunnicutt in New Century Hymnal is a good choice. It goes like this:

  • Watch for upcoming posts for more detail
  • And for more comments on music options, including a classical piece by L’Estocart, see an earlier post here>
Complete with a black sheep

3 May 20. Psalm 23. In the previous Crystal Ball post we read the following: “Little need be said on the psalm itself whose popularity has led to a wealth of music setting.” So be it.


The Spanish setting El Señor es mi pastor, (PFAS 23I) has been something of a favourite, but there are indeed so many songs and so little time. You may not have Psalms for All Seasons at home, but PFAS 23H by Marty Haugen and the preceding 23G are also suitable. The latter uses the same refrain but an interesting two-part version. Then, remember a previous reference to that nice song by Paul Kelly.

10 May 20. Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16. We sang this, or would have if together, on Palm Sunday (see entry here>), but a slightly different verse selection. This rich psalm combines feelings of confidence and security together with a sense of danger, sorrow and dismay. How appropriate. Enduring all opposition, David recognises the need for some assistance from the ‘tower of strength’ and the ‘God of truth’. (vv.4, 5) Psalms for All Seasons 31C, a song in two responsive parts, makes a fine refrain. More on music choices here>

17 May 20. Psalm 66:8-20, a cry of joy for divine guidance and deliverance. PFAS66A Cry out to God in joy all the earth was to be the choice. Meanwhile, enjoy VOCES8 as they present a motet by Giovanni Gabrieli, not a page of sheet music in sight. Many choristers will have sung with pleasure this great song, Jubilate Deo omnis terra:

24 May 20. Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35. Years ago we did this little round with the children:A simple alternative with a theme of social justice appears in TiS 38; you would need the music edition for the music to the verses, but you can just make up a simple tone of a few chanting notes.

31 May. Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. PFAS104D would swing along well if rehearsals were still allowable. However, Together in Song has the answer again this week with a very relevant prayer in TiS 65, Send forth your spirit O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

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