Psalm 62, 21 Jan ’18

The first four verses of the lectionary reading (5-12) sketch a divine presence that is strong, constant, and a safe refuge. David invites us to wait with him in silence, trusting in this ‘stronghold’. Verses 5 and 6 repeat the first two verses of the psalm, and are therefore an integral antiphon within the poem.

A call to silence entering the worship space at Taizé, France.

Translators and composers have taken various approaches to that opening verse, interpreting our accessional state as resting, being still or silent, waiting or even walking. The response in TiS 33 says:

Rest in God alone my soul.

Simple and gracious, while the first line of the verses in that setting says:

Ps62 in the Wode Psalter 1564-1625

Yet be still my soul, and wait for God.

An interesting variation, with a sense of mobility rather than stasis, appears in the Wode partbooks (see the text illustrated at right and an earlier post on Psalm 62):

Yet towards God with silence have I walked; in whome alone all health and hope I see.

The next section of the Psalm goes on to warn against the pursuit of riches, social precedence, extortion or other iniquities and inequities. The psalmist concludes with a reminder of steadfast divine love, and our consequent responsibility.

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Here’s a brief list of some of the musical offerings:

  • Those looking for a traditional hymn might find an SATB setting by Schütz from 1661 (My soul is silent in my God, SWV 159) useful, if rather conservative in style and harmony. It draws on the set of Lutheran hymns in the Becker Psalter in Leipzig of 1602.
  • A small choir of sight-readers would enjoy presenting one of the two settings by Lassus of selected verses of this psalm. But wait! Closer examination reveals that one is by Orlando di Lasso senior (1532-94) and the other by his son, Ferdinand (1560-1609). Both delectable.

Incipit to Ps. 62:8,9 for six voices by Orlando de Lasso, 1573

  • The responsorial refrain in Psalms for All Seasons is actually a Taizé setting, so the photograph above of their invitation to silence is again relevant. As usual, verses are sung to a tone by cantor or small group.
  • Everett in The Emergent Psalter produces a typically thoughtful but uncharacteristically sparse refrain (one chord, no syncopation, even notes), complete with silence. It can be sung as a two-part round.
  • Psalm 62 in TiS No. 33 has not been much sung at South Woden, mainly because it usually comes up close to Australia Day, for which we have sung music from Australian composers: these verses are used by permission from A New Zealand Prayer Book and the tone is from a ‘source unknown’. However this year it falls a week away from that not altogether comfortable date for the national anniversary; further, the selection in TiS includes verses that, rather unusually, coincide with the lectionary reading; and finally, they are [I regret that I must repeat ‘unusually’] inclusive. So it’s on the plan, while Roger and Willa lead our worship. All singers invited.

Psalm 8, Trinity Sunday 15 June 14

Each newbornOut of the mouth of babes and sucklings‘, according to Psalm 8, comes not precocious wisdom and truth – as is the modern common usage of this phrase – but strength or a bulwark ordained in heaven. The very existence of each new child speaks of the power and wonder of creation.

Then comes a familiar expression of amazement; that in the grand system of the universe and its myriad stars, as the psalmists sings:

What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than divine, and crowned them with glory and honor. (verses 4 and 5)

Ben Myers’ short summary tweet on Psalm 8 is worth repeating here:

The stars are a minor achievement (Your finger-painting). Humanity is Your masterwork; the stars gaze down admiringly.

Music

The Everett refrain for this psalm provided one good choice. Then Rachel once more came up with some rich new resources. Two of our young women will lead us in singing a Linnea Good setting called The Height of Heaven.

Ps8 Linnea

Now search as you might, you will not find this little verse in the text. Avoiding the perhaps dated sense of dominance, Linnea and Lynn have managed to personalise the experience of inspiration.