Psalm 23, 3 May ’20

Convergence in the clouds?

Psalm 23 comes around frequently. It appeared just six weeks ago, when we were wondering if lockdown was for real. Here we are now in waters that are artificially still, yet they are troubled not far below the surface. This psalm takes us into a new dimension of stillness, a banquet of hopeful opportunity in which our cups run over.

You might recall that the post for that week recommended Paul Kelly’s song drawing on both Psalm 23 and 1 Thessalonians 4, Meet me in the middle of the air.

The juxtaposition of the divergent ideas from these two scriptures with their different messages is unusual, hard to fathom save in the context of a secular song purely for entertainment. Ironically, as we meet online and our screens fill with zoomed images from somewhere in the clouds, meeting in the air takes on an new poignancy.

Other posts have forecast selections from Psalms for All Seasons and other sources. Matthew Arnold in his six-volume commentary refers tothe care of the great Pastor of the universe”. A favourite from PFAS was El Señor es mi pastor.

More second thoughts

If you read the whole post from 22 March 2020, you will also recall the little ‘Theologygram’ at the end, and reproduced here for your enjoyment — ICYMI, as they say.

It was included then as a touch of humour. However, on second thoughts, many a true gram is drawn in jest. What are ‘thy rod and staff’ that comfort us other than people, elements and features of the creation that give us joy, comfort or inspiration.

Some say that God has no hands on earth other than ours. Small acts to comfort others count as we are seeing in our neighbourhoods. ‘Things that comfort me’,  by Rich Wyld, is the other side of the coin. Love and support comes from friends, society and our environment (including your dog if you have one) rather than from angels descending from on high.

Initial decorated capital D and text of verse 1, Psalm 23 in the Rutland Bible, c 1260. British Library MS 62965. Some Latin versions use the verb pascit, to care for and feed, rather than regit, to rule or direct. The original Hebrew is apparently pretty clear.

Finally, for a more traditional version, this last recording of Dominus regit me is by a highly regarded but little known Flemish composer, Philippe Rogier (c. 1561 – 1596):

Information on this file is limited but it seems the psalm music runs to 2 minutes 30. A rendition of the Magnificat follows.

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