"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.