Crystal Ball, June 2020.

For SWUC: volunteer psalm singers please contact the webmaster with your song choice.

7 Jun 20. Psalm 8. In the cosmology of Psalm 8, humankind is a jewel of creation, somewhat less than perfect, yet ‘adorned with glory and honour’ (v.5). Significantly, the creation is placed under our care (v. 6), a responsibility that is not absolved by the loss of the Garden of Eden, however one interprets that tale. So last week’s psalm and this seem to lead us to awareness of our role as carers. As Prof. Tom Wright says:

Though the psalmists were aware as anyone of the darkness within the human heart, Psalm 8 can still gloriously remind us of the human vocation. [1]

There seems to be a growing feeling that the turmoil of Covid-19 may represent an opportunity to regain the initiative in care for our environment.


  • A refrain by Linnea Good (‘The height of heaven‘); regrettably, we cannot gather our women and girls who have movingly presented this song in recent years.
  • A good alternative is Everett’s How great is your name in TEP —  but few will have this book at home.
  • or PFAS 8E, How Majestic.

14 Jun. Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19. (Complementary: Ps.130). As we saw in April, Psalm 116 is a paean of thanks for deliverance from the power of darkness, the anguish of the grave. So the psalmist resolves to walk in the divine presence in the land of the living (v.9).

The second half of the psalm is an act of dedication, so strongly felt that the psalmist’s declarations of trust and invocation are to be made ‘in the presence of all God’s people’. Assuming we cannot present the beautiful Vespers Psalm setting by Tomas Luis Victoria —  who wrote dozens of psalm settings for various liturgical uses — then it’s PFAS 116D, I love the Lord. We sing a tone modelled on the refrain tune. The choice is somewhat in support of increased awareness of anti-racism, as it evokes African-American roots.

21 Jun. Psalm 86:1-10 (or Ps. 69). Sometimes at this time of the winter solstice, we have used a home-grown refrain, the tune mapping the descending then rising trajectory of the sun — well, in this southern hemisphere at least.

From NCH (by Judy Hunnicutt, 1994) is a good alternative. It swings along nicely and the message is apposite.

15C clock, Basel museum
How long did this old piece tick away?

28 Jun. Psalm 13 (or 89). Hear a simple but urgent lament in Psalm 13, in which the key question is ‘How long?’  How long will that internal anxious silence last before an inkling of an answer, some source of relief, comfort or bounty emerges.

How long have you forgotten me O Lord? How long will you hide your face from me? (v. 1)

🎵 A previous post discusses music choices, ranging from Taizé’s O Lord hear my prayer, to (my preference) Steve Bell’s excellent tune How long? (listen)

* * *

[1] Wright, Tom; Finding God in the Psalms, SPCK, 2014.

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