Psalm 22, 2 May 21

The reading this Sunday starts at verse 25, thus skipping the early verses with their dark sense of abandonment and consequent association with Good Friday. (See main page Psalm 22: Forsaken?) Here, the psalmist sings a hymn of praise to a powerful and just God who, ultimately, rules over the nations despite indications to the contrary.

The psalmist imagines a divine kingdom of love in which “the poor shall eat and be satisfied”, and future generations will “proclaim God’s deliverance to a people yet unborn.” There is a strong theme of timeless continuity.

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Opening verses of Psalm 22 in the Luttrell Psalter from Northern England around 1340. Held in the British Library, AddMS 42130.

The main page mentioned above also discusses just a few music references.

At Woden Valley, we turn to Psalms for All Seasons to find, as inTogether in Song, that nearly all settings ask God why we are forsaken every Good Friday. That is hardly surprising.

However, tucked away behind the main entry for 22D is an alternate refrain by Lorraine Brugh from Psalter for Worship (Augsburg).

This one uses verse 27 as a refrain (‘Lord’ replaced by ‘God’):

All the ends of the earth

shall remember

and turn unto God.

As usual, the authors offer a simple two-bar chanting tone, unexceptional save for a nice chord sequence of Dm-Cm7-BbΔ7-C.

However, sensing that our group rather leans towards a more lively or interesting vocal treatment than the sedate chanting of the text with pointing to a plain tone, here is part of a paraphrase scanned to meet the rhythm of the refrain. The music has been arranged for three part voice, rather than unison in PFAS.

Cantor sheet for Psalm 22 based on PFAS 22D, arranged for three voices.

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