May, 24 2020 Alan Storey: Problematic Praise [Psalm 68; Acts 1]
Over the years I have repeatedly recommended Nan C. Merrill’s Psalms For Praying – An Invitation to Wholeness. Her rendition of all 150 Psalms is exquisitely beautiful. It is also imaginatively courageous. She writes as a jazz musician plays. Keeping true to the original and underlying score while improvising on the surface in ways that allow us to hear the original melody with renewed wonder and appreciation.
Merrill’s artistry carries the distinct influence of Jesus, who also did with words as a jazz artist does with strings and keys. Allowing Jesus’ baseline to influence her own, Merrill demilitarises the Psalms. The trumpet of vengeance is silenced. The hum of humility replaces the beat of triumphalism. The enemy that must be fought is no longer out there, but within. To be fought with forgiveness, not fists. The childish schoolboy boast: “My God is bigger and better and stronger than yours” is quietened by the mature realisation that God is always for all … ALWAYS FOR ALL.
This is clearly witnessed in Merrill’s rendition of Psalm 47 – one of the Psalms set for Ascension Day. A Psalm that traditionally shrieks of nationalism and conquest with the psalmist boasting about the Lord’s kingly power that “subdued peoples under us”, biblically entrenching an ‘us versus them’ that too many throughout the ages have blindly followed. Read Merrill’s account to hear what the Psalm sounds like when the performing artist is tuned into Jesus.
Clap your hands, all peoples!
Acclaim the Creator with
loud songs of joy!
For the Beloved of our hearts
the Most High over all the earth.
Love invites the people to
the nations to peace.
Love is our birthright, our heritage,
to be shared with all.
Let Love rise up to shouts of acclamation;
join in the cosmic celebration!
Sing praises to the Creator,
Sing praises to the Beloved,
For Love has created the universe,
let us dance to the flute
and the harp.
Love reigns over nations,
awaiting an answer to its call.
May the leaders of the nations
gather to bring peace and
justice to all.
For the earth belongs to Love,
Who yearns to see creation healed!
Sing praises to the Beloved!
©Nan C. Merrill, Psalms for Praying
I remind you that the CMM Chat at 11h11 on Sunday will be a discussion with three healthcare practitioners from CMM who are directly involved in responding to Covid-19 on the ground in the Western Cape: René Goliath, Yvette Andrews and Ian Proudfoot. Please email email@example.com if you want to receive the link to the Sunday CMM Chat.
Look forward to seeing you then.