Welcome to 2021! Readers will no doubt relish the prospect of sunnier times ahead. If you wish, add a note below on your hopes and intentions for making life better for you and others.
How tied we are to our environment, complete with wild weather, floods, droughts, fires, global warming, and pandemics. Just when we are feeling worn down and perhaps a little gloomy, along comes Psalm 147 to assure us that things are in hand:
7 Sing to God with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre. 8 God covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills. 9 God gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.
This does not absolve us, as part of the creation, from agency — working towards that sustainment, caring for our environment. But it gives hope that we are not alone.
In the early verses, there are some nice brief themes on gathering people to a holy place (2), healing the wounded (3) and naming the stars (4); these verses are not included in this Lectionary selection 12-20.
The song goes on to describe divine sustainment of various corners of the created universe, including blizzards and rain that come and go. The set reading opens at verse 12 with a call for praise that, on the whole, we are much blessed:
12 Worship God, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 13 Who strengthens the bars of your gates; and blesses your children within you. 14 God grants peace within your borders; and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
Psalm 147 sits in the middle of a little cluster of songs of thanks and praise right at the end of the Psalter. The optimistic tone fits equally well at a new beginning, the opening of a better year.
Many nice settings are available for this song. If worship and psalm were scheduled at South Woden this Sunday — which they are not, so no CoVideo will be provided — Together in Song 91 by John Bell might be first cab off the rank. (TiS 90 is also on this psalm.)
For comments on the use of this psalm in Vespers, and on other modern settings, see the main page on Psalm 147, ‘Heal the Wounded’.