Tuesday, March 17

Psalm 42 As the deer longs

I have been member of our local church choirs for over 25 years and I never tire of singing liturgical music, especially the Psalms.
Psalms can be sung as a hymn or as a responsorial Psalm which is how they were first intended; the verse/chorus is repeatedly sung by the congregation after the choir sings the verses.
The Psalms have several authors; with many attributable to King David. Most people are familiar with The Lord is my Shepherd which is prefaced simply as a Psalm of David. Whether it was actually written by King David is problematic as scholars recognize many of the events described within these Psalms attributed to him happened many centuries later.

What I find interesting about the collections of 150 Psalms is the extent of the full range of emotions and drama that are cleverly interwoven to describe celebrated past events and hopeful aspirations of a community; of a rich theology. 

They reflect the poetic nature of the Hebrew Bible which in turn is indicative of the popularity of poetry in Israel and its surrounding regions at the time. According to the Jerusalem Bible’s introduction to the Psalms they fit into three categories , Hymns, Entreaty (for use in public and temple court) and thanksgiving.

Here are some of the words which would fit under the heading of an "Entreaty" shown here in abbreviated form. Psalm 42~is headed: For the Choirmaster ~ of the sons of Korah (which is a reference to the sons of Korah who were musicians at that time of the original composition.)

As the deer longs for running streams,
so I long, so I long, so I long for you.

A-thirst my soul for you the God who is my life!
When shall I see, when shall I see,
see the face of God?

As the deer longs for running streams,
so I long, so I long, so I long for you.

Continually the foe delights in taunting me:
“Where is God, where is your God?”
Where, O where, are you?

As the deer longs for running streams,
so I long, so I long, so I long for you.

Then I shall go unto the altar of my God.
Praising you, O my joy and gladness,
I shall praise your name.

As the deer longs for running streams,
so I long, so I long, so I long for you.


Halle said...

The is magic when the word becomes the song. Music is powerful.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Halle
I couldn't find a decent recording on U-tube to illustrate the beauty/magic of this melody. best wishes

susan said...

I've often thought it likely that singing is what made us human in the first place.

I'd love to hear your choir sing this beautiful psalm.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
I've sure that singing is what make us human, as it lies somewhere between speaking and writing, but has an unmistakable added allure which is hard to define.
So we find it such a pleasurable experience, even to pass on the material to subsequent generations.
I think music, as in the use of the human voice, was possibly one of those first defining moments to embrace a culture alongside survival.

One day I will do recording of the Psalm and leave it on the BLOG
Best wishes