Psalm 132, 21 Nov 21

  • Note for WVUC. Thematic considerations lead us to sing Psalm 43. For music associated with this lovely song (“Send out your light and your truth let them lead me”) see the main page, Psalm 43: Light and Truth. Music choice at WVUC is outlined below.

This thirteenth song of ascent is a call and response between David and God, both vowing commitment to a covenant relationship. Psalm 132 and an associated text from Samuel talk about David and the building of a holy place for God, the temple.

A strong theme of associating place — whether temple, hill or city — with holiness, spirits or gods, runs through civilisations and cultures, including biblical history. This psalm has a strong awareness of location but it also celebrates the inspiration, faithfulness and peace that can be derived in such retreats.

Dawn

Mountains — Ararat, Zion, Parnassus, Fuji — frequently attracted spiritual significance in many cultural myths. Mont Ventoux looks brooding and mysterious here, but is better known these days as a challenge for the Tour de France, which has ascended the windy peak eighteen times since 1951.

For more on this psalm and some of its music, see the page Psalm 132: Find a holy place>

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As for Psalm 43 at Woden Valley, our leader detects an underlying theme of the need for truth in difficult but meaningful dialogue, whether with an authority (in Lectionary readings this week it’s Pilate) or others. So we turn to Psalm 43, which calls for an influx of divine truth and light on our lives. You can read more about this one in the relevant main page.

Image: Libby O’Loghlin

The refrain in Together in Song 27 provides a very relevant text:

‘Send out your truth and your light let them lead me’

Ps 43:3

The music is actually the first line of a longer hymn tune written by Parisian composer Charles-François Gounod (1818 – 1893). Gounod, who was pally with some great musicians like Bizet and Mendelssohn, was perhaps more devout and dedicated than successful.

He is known particularly for his opera Faust, but his reputation was on the rise until the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 interrupted his career. However, his music was said to be an important influence in France. In any event, this small fragment admirably fulfils our modest requirements.

As for the verses, the tone provided is adequate and pleasant, but with just a couple of chords it is harmonically unadventurous. Such even tenors can have great beauty, particularly in pre-Covid times when we could assemble a small band of a cappella singers to enhance the harmonic richness. In our current solo or duo presentations during social isolation, these plainer tones can limit the opportunity for expression and dramatic inflection.

The compromise chosen is to modify the tone for a more tuneful melody with a more varied harmonic progression (for the record it’s Dm-Bb-G7-A7-Dm7-C9-F for the first couplet). However, a single chanting note is retained for the second couplet over the chords Eb9-F.

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