Have mercy, Lord, have mercy – a metrical version of Psalm 51

This is the third (and final) hymn for this Lenten season. Today’s post is a version of Psalm 51, which I have tried to avoid Christianizing, at least too heavily. Maybe my Jewish friends will tell me if I’ve succeeded, or if my unconcious Christian bias in reading is simply too strong.

As always with hymn and prayer texts on this site, do feel free to make use of it under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

The tune I had in mind while writing was Passion Chorale.

Have mercy, Lord, have mercy,
in your abundant love,
and from my sin now cleanse me,
my trespasses remove.
My shame is overpowering,
it will not let me go:
great wrath above is towering,
your sentence to bestow.

From birth have I offended,
and long been mired in sin,
yet you my heart have tended,
and sought a way within.
O cleanse my inner being,
and wash away my shame,
that I no longer fleeing
may glorify your name.

Look not on my transgression,
but take away my sin,
acknowledge my confession,
and give me life within.
Create in me a clean heart,
your spirit now renew,
your saving joy be my part,
my life be one with you.

Contrition my oblation,
and tears my sacrifice,
no ritual immolation
for love demands no price;
O God of my salvation,
open my lips and raise
the song of new creation,
restored in grace for praise.

Sing us one of the songs of Zion – looking at the Psalms

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

With the psalms, this series reaches the book of the Old Testament most heavily used by Christians. It is the most quoted in the New Testament, and most read, sung and prayed in the life of the church. The Lectionary for Mass, which became the basis of the Revised Common Lectionary, reintroduced the psalms to celebrations of the Eucharist, and did so in a particular way.

Older eucharistic services, whether the Latin Missal or the Book of Common Prayer, only had an epistle and gospel reading, with chants or (eventually) a hymn between the two. When the new lectionary introduced an Old Testament reading (linked to the gospel) it also introduced a psalm which in some way responded to the Old Testament reading.

Continue reading “Sing us one of the songs of Zion – looking at the Psalms”

A grab-bag of poetry, proverbs and perspicacity

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

The third main section of Old Testament and apocryphal books is something of a grab bag, whether we focus solely on the undisputed books, or include the deuterocanonical ones as well. For some people, poetry is the dominant characteristic, although much of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are prose. For others, wisdom is the primary emphasis, although it is not the most obvious category for many psalms, nor for the love poetry of the Song of Songs.

The Hebrew books are all classified by Jewish tradition under the miscellaneous third category of Writings. They are the books that are not Law or Prophet. Christians might add to that classification, saying they are the books that are not Law, Prophet or History. Nonetheless, poetry is the predominant form, and wisdom a frequent emphasis.

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The problems of power: First and Second Samuel

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

There are a few carefully selected stories from the two books of Samuel which occur in the lectionary. There is a larger number in those churches which use the continuous Old Testament lectionary. This wider selection is not surprising, as these books tell the story, often quite critically, of the establishment of the Israelite monarchy. They also present a warts-and-all picture of the man who would come to be revered as the ideal king, David of Bethlehem.

King David Playing the Harp (detail), Gerard van Honthorst, 1622, via Wikimedia Commons
Continue reading “The problems of power: First and Second Samuel”