Psalms, Revised Songbird Version

Psalm 29, Take Two

Psalm 29 (Revised Songbird Version) — This will be our Call to Worship on Sunday.

 

Leader: Put it into words, you angels: our Lord is a God of glory and strength.

People: Put it into words; speak out loud the glory of God's name!

Leader: Worship our Lord in the irresistible wonder of holiness.

People: When we hear the waves crash, we hear God.

Leader: God’s voice speaks stateliness and wildness, too.

People: God's voice breaks mighty trees the way we snap twigs under our feet.

Leader: God’s voice moves all creation, the land and the creatures and the people.

People: When we see flames, they remind us of God's power.

Leader: When we feel an earthquake, we get a taste of God's strength. Put it into words!

People: Glory! Glory!!

Leader: Whatever happens, flood or fire, earthquake or windstorm, God will be with us.

All: God will help us, whatever comes. God will help us and give us peace.

 

Psalms, Revised Songbird Version

Put it into words

My continuing obsession with Psalm 29 led to this responsive reading, which is an interlacing of the NRSV and the Revised Songbird Version.

One: Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Many: Put it into words, you angels: our Lord is a God of glory and strength.

One: Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor.

Many: Put it into words of prayer and praise; speak out loud the glory of God's name; worship our Lord in the irresistible wonder of holiness.

One: The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.

Many: When we hear the waves crash, we hear God.

One: The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

Many: There is power and dignity in the voice of God.

One: The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

Many: God's voice could break the mightiest trees the way twigs snap under our feet.

One: He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

Many: All the land is moved by God's voice.

One: The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.

Many: When we see flames, they remind us of God's power.

One: The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

Many: When we feel an earthquake, we get a taste of God's strength.

One: The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!"

Many: Glory! Glory!!

One: The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

Many: Whatever happens, flood or fire, earthquake or windstorm, God will be with us.

One: May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

All: God help us, whatever may come. God help us and give us peace.

 

Inclusive Language, Pray First, Psalms, Revised Songbird Version

What we say

It's the fourth of January, and I'm working on the details of this Pray First thing. I asked the question on Twitter, if I pray right before I go to sleep, is that Praying First, prior to sleeping, or is it Praying Last, the last thing I do before passing out completely?

(Someone suggested being less linear, but of course that was someone who didn't know the context. Still, something to consider.)

It's troubling to me how often being prayerful leads to apparent unconsciousness. It happens to me at bedtime, for sure, but also as I drift in and out of the world around me in the dark of winter morning. 

And I'm interested in the word I mumble repeatedly, if mumbling is something you can do in the silence of your mind. I mumble, "Lord," and it happens a lot.

This is a word I've trained out of my liturgical writing. It's so Anglophile, so feudal, so unrelated to anything we know about in 21st century America.

But there it is, coming out of my metaphorical mouth, "Lord." And it doesn't feel like a literary reference. It feels like a personal way of talking to God, where "Oh, God" feels like something I would say in frustration or in formality. 

"Lord" feels intimate. 

Fifteen years ago, in the run-up to the first enormous transition of my adult life, I felt attached to the idea of God as Mother. I'm not sure I ever wanted to go with the idea of Goddess. That had other freight attached to it. Well, do did "mother." Serious, serious emotional, personal baggage weighed down the possibility of God as Mother for this bird. I had spent, gosh, probably seven or eight years wrestling with that word, ever since I came to Maine and was introduced to the idea of inclusive language.

Funny, do we ever think of calling God "Lady?" Father/Mother, we get that. But Lord/Lady? That pairing feels like an announcement at a Court Ball, not a set of words for prayer or hymns or liturgy. 

In the Psalm for this Sunday, which is 29, the NRSV gives us the marvelous word "Ascribe."

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor. (That's Psalm 29:1-2, by the way.)

Ascribe means "to refer to a supposed cause, source, or author." In my preacher group this morning we looked it up, and we also looked up some other translations of the Psalm. "Give unto the Lord," says the King James Version, which in our 21st century cadence sounds like an old-fashioned way of saying we're giving the Lord glory and strength instead of acknowledging what God already has.

Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (That's your KJV for 29:1-2.)

I love words, especially pretty ones. I love the way a different version makes me thing again about what people meant a long, long time ago and how obscure it sounds to American ears in this new year of the weird number. Is it Twenty-Eleven? Or Two Thousand Eleven? Whatever year it is, how do we say the Psalm, for it begs to be spoken aloud, in a way that makes sense to the people saying it, recognizing that God's ears already hear it in God's language?

Whatever that is.

Cedars I want to make the ideas accessible, while making the point that God's power is beyond our limited concepts of accessibility. If the Psalm speaks of the cedars of Lebanon and the wilderness of Kadesh, do I draw a parallel with the natural features we know in North Yarmouth and its surrounds, creating a comparison that might draw a snicker, or do I over-explain Lebanon and Kadesh after a show-off bluestocking trip to the Bible Dictionary?

I want the words we say to make some kind of sense without losing the rhythm of  poetry and the beauty of wonder.

Which brings me back to where I started. How do I figure out how to proceed?

Pray first.

Even if the first word out of my mouth or inside my puzzlingly retrograde head is "Lord." 

Put it into words, you angels: our Lord is a God of glory and strength.
Put it into words of prayer and praise; speak out loud the glory of God's name; worship our Lord in the irresistible wonder of holiness.  (That's your Revised Songbird Version.)

And if you find yourself feeling small and imperfect in the darkest hours of the morning, or worried and inconsequential before you lie down at night, and you want to say "Lord," I think it's okay. She'll forgive you, I feel certain of it.

(Image can be found here. And yes, I'm trying to get back to lectionary blogging. This week is Baptism of the Lord A.  See, it's everywhere!)

Liturgy, Psalms, Revised Songbird Version

Litany on Psalm 121

(A collusion amongst the KJV, the NRSV, but ultimately the Revised Songbird Version.)

Reader One: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.

All: We lift up our eyes to the hills — from where will our help come?

Reader Two: Where *does* our help come from?

Reader One: Our help comes from God, who made heaven and earth.

Women: God who keeps us will not slumber.

Reader Two: God will not slumber?

Reader One: God keeps watch over all people and will not slumber *or* sleep.

Men: God is our keeper. God is our shade, right beside us.

Reader Two: Right beside us?

Reader One: Yes. Right beside. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

All: God is always with us.

Reader One: God will preserve you from all evil. 

Right Side: God will take care of our souls.

Left Side: God will keep our lives.

Reader Two: Even my life?

Reader One: Even that. God will keep your going in and your coming out, always.

All: God will preserve us, going out and coming in, in this time and forevermore.