Psalm 31, 13 April 14

You may have noticed that there are actually two psalms listed for Palm Sunday, the liturgies of the palms and that of the passion. A few days ago I posted on palms and Psalm 118 for this Sunday – but there’s no rule against a double-dip.

So we shall also enjoy Psalm 31, singing a response from Psalms for all seasons, no 31C.

14C hourglass, Basel museumAs usual there are many intertwined ideas in this song. The response is strong, picking up a rather mysterious but powerful promise in verse 15:

My times are in your hands.

That’s only one of four good snapshot statements of belief in this antiphon. It’s enough for now.


This nicely harmonised response follows an easy, descending path of similar phrases. Easily learned, nice to sing. Verses will be sung to a similar chord progression.

The main tune is quite a high setting but there is a second lower part acting as an echo voice which would be very warming. If you can help by meeting early to learn and sing this supporting tune, please respond below:

15C clock, Basel museumNotes

1.   Followers who access these posts by email on smart-phone may encounter problems with response boxes. View on your computer browser or download the WordPress app.

2.   If you have not yet entered your prediction on the song for Easter Sunday (at the foot of the palm post), the hourglass is running.

3.  Both ancient timepieces depicted are in Basel. Here in Canberra at the National Library you may have seen the important Harrison clock itself in the recent exhibition Mapping our world. Important? It’s the one that solved the problem of finding longitude when navigating at sea.

Psalm 118, 13 Apr 14 – Palms

Palms in the KimberleyAn educational sign in the new Red Garden of our wonderful National Botanic Gardens tells us they are not sure if palms growing in remote corners of the Kimberley, like those depicted here, were native to Australia or imported with aboriginal people many thousands of years ago. Apparently there’s ‘some debate’ about it.

Pavement signage, NBGOn the other hand, another sign only a few metres away in the pathways tells us that at least some were relics of a more abundant past.

In any event, despite their various forms the particular shape of the palm frond is well known to many peoples; they grow here and there all over the world including around the Med and the scene of the entry into Jerusalem.

A palm psalm?

On both Palm Sunday and on Easter Sunday we are invited to hear Psalm 118, substantially the same readings except for a few verses.

There’s a lot to this psalm so it’s nice to visit and revisit on successive Sundays. Many phrases are familiar, bringing to mind songs that have featured them:

  • steadfast love
  • open the gates
  • the cornerstone
  • this is the day
  • one who comes in the name
  • you are my God, I will praise

Any tunes in your head?

Palm in VenceOh, and of course for Palm Sunday, there’s this:

The LORD is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. (v. 27)

[Ray, where did we put those horns?]


Recognising the continuity, we call both times upon an old favourite tune suggested in Psalms for all seasons; ‘This is the day‘. It’s quite repetitive, not a bad thing of course. It also suggests a possible antiphonal approach, one group serving a phrase (con brio of course) and another group volleying it back. All in all an enjoyable sing.

It is only a visit, though. Closer examination reveals that the three verses of this nice little Fijian song draw only on a few phrases from verses 19, 24 and 28 of the psalm – and 28 does not even make it into the Easter Sunday selection.

Never fear, further verses and another great song will follow on Easter Sunday. In fact, a Tim Tam at tea to the correct winner of the following multi-guess quiz. Which phrase will be the basis of the additional psalm song for Easter Sunday? (Select from the pull-down list)

But for this week:Palms at Percy Is

So much music, so few psalms;

one repeated never harms,

charming balms calm all alarms.

Don’t forget to bring some palms.

Yes, well, nice try.

Do I get any points for 7/7/7/7?