Psalm 29, 9 Jan 22

The voice of God is a constant and powerful theme in this psalm — thundering over the mighty waters, shaking the wilderness, breaking cedars or flashing forth in flames. True of any era, but the present pattern of wild weather as a result of climate change comes immediately to mind.

The psalmist (said to be David) assures us that through all the elemental turbulence of life, the divine spirit reigns supreme. Equally relevant in any era but splashed with stronger colours for these times, the psalmist prays for strength and peace.

Voices are distinctive. A familiar voice from someone out of sight is usually easy to recognise and identify. There is no need to analyse the pattern of frequencies, the combination of harmonics, or the different degrees of resonance. The subconscious sifts.

The psalms, poetic and mystical though they may be, are full of voices. The fact that we do not always immediately identify them may be lack of familiarity or sounds from an ancient era and society. Maybe also because they are indeed poetical and mystical, not physical or spoken. In the business of daily life we seldom pull up short and say: ‘That’s a heavenly voice speaking.’

This song suggests that we listen to and watch our environment, our physical surroundings carefully. Guiding voices arise from many other sources, including friends and family, but the influence of nature on the human soul is a constant theme in literature and life.


🎵

This concluding prayer for peace suggests a familiar and beautifully harmonised Taizé chant as the antiphon: “Dona nobis pacem cordium, give to us peace in our hearts”. Sing it twice as a refrain.

This song appears in Together in Song as 713, but with words drawn from several Bible verses other than Psalm 29. So the words from 29 can be added in a couple of different ways:

  • With a little careful pointing, the text of this psalm falls into place to the same chords and basic tune of Jacques Berthier’s nice refrain. The engaging SATB harmony is worth spending time to rehearse with at least three and preferably four voices.
  • With some further juggling, the text might be paraphrased to fit the verse tune in TiS against the ostinato as suggested. This would be effective presented by a soloist acting as story-teller.
The ‘medius’ (alto) voice in Thomas Ravenscroft’s The Whole Booke of Psalmes, published in 1621. Following a common practice in early music, the tune is in the tenor voice, with a cantus part providing upper harmony. The psalm opens with a call to rulers to observe divine guidance towards rightful ways.

2 thoughts on “Psalm 29, 9 Jan 22

  1. Brendan, just checking… there is no Psalm next Sunday9 Jan zoom service. Presume this is your regular PS in the S blog post? Trish

    Sent from my iPhone

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