Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Song

"The Lord is my strength and my song;" Psalm 118

This verse caught me this morning. It is from yesterday's Office. The Psalm is building up to a rousing affirmation that the Lord (Yahweh) is the Psalmist's savior in a very martial sense. The victory in verse fifteen ("There are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the just.") is a military victory.

I asked myself how then is "song" the parallel equivalent of "strength?" The image must be a troop of soldiers going to battle singing as they march: their song feeds their will to fight; the words and the melody motivate their deeds.

In times past, songs unified men in work. This is how gangs of men build the rhythm to work in unison. Think of sea shanties! Each crew member pulled on the beat to heave the anchor.

We have lost something. In the factory, it is the discordant noise of machinery that divides us. We have mechanized the battlefield. The liturgists after Vatican II industrialized the mass.

In the liturgy, the role of chant is to join us in the rhythm of prayer: the common work of praising the transcendent God. We must relearn to pray like men.


Michael Riley said...

"All are welcome in this place" doesn't motivate you?

Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr. said...


Are you being ironic? With the Irish one never knows. Certainly all of us sinners should be welcomed to enter into the presence of the Lord. If that is what is meant and that is how it is said, that motivates: we may gain the courage to enter.

When Fr. Smiles isssues a "All are welcome in this place" and seems to calling me to glad hand my mates; feel conviviality; and get ready for a superficial social event, I am not motivated toward the hard work of adoring the transcendent God of both awe and mercy. It is too easy to forget that "Aslan is not a tame lion."

Michael Riley said...

I have the feeling of a social gathering of the local league of nations where nothing matters. This is not welcoming sinners asking for forgiveness, but, to me, welcoming all who wish to do us harm. It is the gentle way of saying all is relevant.

I would like a church where there is more moral clarity and less support for actions and policies that bring evil into the world.