God is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
Light — the light of the world (John 8:12) and light upon the path (Psalm 119:105) — is a theme found in many psalms, in words that have become familiar by virtue of repetition and songs based on such verses.
This psalm offers encouragement, weaving together two threads of thought.
First is that of light, beauty and goodness. The psalmist asks but one thing, to dwell in that divine aura forever, to see beauty all around and commune with that spirit.
Taking advantage this week of Jon’s presence at the helm, we gather a male voice quartet seeking good harmony and stretching beyond our usual weekly diet.
The Taizé round The Lord is my light and other responsorials are enticing. However, we propose to render a home-grown setting that is equally restrained for Lent but a little more challenging for the singers. The antiphon invites those gathered to make that opening declaration their own:
Cantors: God is my light and my salvation
People: Whom shall I fear?
I call this little piece the ‘Half-dim’ antiphon after the opening half-diminished chords — perhaps not very suitable a title when rejoicing in the bright rays of divine light on our meandering path. Cantors sing the verses to the same tune. If the technology works, listen here:
The male voice quartet will also sing Thou knowest Lord by Henry Purcell (1659-95) as the gradual, a prayer of access. The sentence is borrowed from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Referring liberally to such psalms as 139, it begins:
Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears unto our pray’rs; but spare us, Lord most holy.
Rather quaintly to the modern ear it continues, a precursor to Good Friday, with the prayer: ‘suffer us not … to fall from thee’.
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