Friday, November 29, 2013

"everybody sing now: 'Blessed is the one who dashes infants against the rocks!""

I was so thrilled to hear that St. Kurt Willems got the chance to ask N. T. Wright  a question about the psalms...that is  basically the same question I would have asked!
Kurt popping the question

Psalms of lament and imprecation aren't often enough set to contemporary worship songs (just ask Mark DeRaud). In a helpful post ( "WE NEED MOURNING WORSHIP SERVICES"),  Pasta Spin laments that we don't lament enough in church/as church.  I make the case that when the church doesn't lament, society finds a way to remind the church of its calling (Complaints Choir, anyone?)

I love teaching a class (Pasta Spin teaches it, too), where students are challenged to find contemporary songs that are worshipful.

I enjoy challenging them to cite examples of contemporary songs/psalms of lament; songs that are not "happy-clappy"(hear Bono talk about this phenomenon  in the video below)

  I have several tunes that work for me
 (see No sad songs allowed"Low" by The Violet Burning,

Praying with Pink Floyd,   "Make it a Doubleand posts labeled "lament.")

  Often, students have never considered--until hearing the history of Psalms

--that such would be "appropriate" for worship.

But let's stretch a little more.  If all the psalms have precedent for liturgical/musical about those delightful songs of imprecation?

How about a little ditty on Psalm 56:8" 

"Break their teeth, O God!"

 (Love the irony that the inscription on this psalm reminds us it was to be "sung to the tune of 'Do Not Destroy''....ha! and don't miss the tune title for Psalm 22. See "The Lord Be With You...Even When He's Not!")

But the one I've often wondered about is the one Kurt asked Wright about: 
Is there a place for chanting/singing  Psalm 139:7:  

"Blessed  is the one who seizes your infants
    and dashes them against the rocks."

Uh, not quite fit for an infant dedication service!

I love the answer Wright gave; the audio is here, at the 1 hour, 7 min mark.


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