Today’s reading: Psalms 26-31.
“The Psalms are the steady, sustained subcurrent of healthy Christian living. They shaped the praying and vocation even of Jesus himself. They can and will do the same for us. The Psalms do this, to begin with, simply because they are poetry set to music: a classic double art form… A poem (a good poem, at least) uses its poetic form to probe deeper into human experience than ordinary speech or writing is usually able to do, to pull back a veil and allow the hearer or reader to sense other dimensions.” N.T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms
Did you know that for two hundred years after John Calvin the Reformed churches used only the Psalms for their congregational singing? Reformed Presbyterians continue the practice of singing only Psalms to this day. Many familiar hymns come directly from a psalm, such as this one from Psalm 100:
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.
My earliest memory of a song based on Psalm 27 was the version by Frances Allitsen:
The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom, then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom then shall I be afraid?
Though a host of men were laid against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid;
And tho’ there rose up war against me, yet will I put my trust in Him.
For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His tabernacle.
Yea, in the secret places of His dwelling shall He hide me,
And set me up upon a rock of stone.
Years later I learned a song by John Foley based on another portion of Psalm 27:
The Lord is my light the Lord is my shield,
Praise the Lord and the love He reveals:
Safe journey shelter and home,
Safe in the Lord alone!
Hear O Lord my cry to You.
Turn not away for You are my light,
Turn not Your face from me.
Seek Your face You said O Lord:
My Heart says to You,
Your face Lord I seek.
Hide not your face from me.
When I started listening to contemporary Christian music in the 80’s, Harvest was one of my favorite groups. They sang a song from Psalm 27:
One thing I ask of the Lord
One thing will I seek
That I will dwell in the House of the Lord
All my days
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
And to seek Him in His Temple
Where no foe can cause me harm
Then will my head be lifted
Above my enemies
And in His Temple I will sacrifice
And make music to my Lord
One thing I ask, one thing will I sill seek in the world
Simply to know Him
I know there are many other songs based on Psalm 27. Do you have a favorite? Remember that singing the scriptures is one of the best ways to memorize them.
Image by Ann Powell Groner on Flickr, CC by 2.0