Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Retrieve Lament, Day 30 with Cardiphonia, Bifrost Arts, Miriam Jones, Sojourn Music and Abraham Juliot (+ suggested resources for Lent 2013)

"Once, ritual lament would have been chanted; women would have been paid to beat their breasts and howl for you all night, when all is silent. Where can we find such customs now? So many have long since disappeared or been disowned.
That’s what you had to come for: to retrieve
the lament that we omitted." 
             -- Ranier Maria Rilke, from Requiem For A Friend
During Lent I'll share almost-daily meditations of Scripture, hymns, and art reflecting this time of tension between dying and birth.

Won't you join me?

March 19, Day 30

Truth is, we all love liturgy.  Most of my non-denominational and burned-out-from-dead-churches friends would probably disagree.  And I'd try not to be too obnoxious pointing out how right I am when we're sitting together on New  Year's Eve counting down with Times Square crowd or singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh-inning stretch.  I'd try to respect their solemn recitation of the military funeral they attended but probably wouldn't refrain from an I told you so over beers at their favorite ethnic festival or over wings and pizza watching Monday Night Football.

Truth is, we were wired for liturgy.  At least since that first Passover, when neighbors met each other in Egyptian dusk, whispering prayer to YHWH over the sound of bloody brush-strokes on doorposts.  This people-together sort of work -- where everyone joins in gestures, prayers, and song -- bonds us, unites us in a common purpose, expands meaning beyond individual experience of joy or sorrow.  And not just any old actions will do; only the richest well of meaning is deep enough for the next generation.

The Book of Psalms invites us to rehearse the poetry of praise and lament, the liturgy of God's people from the beginning of being God's people.  This week I'm digging into the Psalms of Ascent, Psalm 120-134, and imagining myself walking the path up to the city of worship with my Hebrew brothers and sisters.  
via CardiphoniaThe Psalms of Ascents (Psalm 120-134) have existed as a pilgrim psalter for the Judeo-Christian faith for over 2 millenia.  They are a unique collection of psalms, shorter than average – with a distinctive ‘folky-ness’ that were sung by jewish pilgrims as they traveled up to Jerusalem for the great feasts.
As I read these chapters I discovered the happy surprise that once again Bruce Benedict (aka, Cardiphonia), worship leader at Christ the King Presbyterian church in Raleigh, shares with us all a rich resource for worship.  In 2009 CTK  focused on Psalms 120-134 for 15 weeks, growing in their understanding and appreciation for the Old Testament poetry that speaks deeply to our lives of corporate and everyday worship in the here and now.  They've generously shared all their resources here.

Here's a few more bits from my meditation on the first four psalms of ascent...

Songs of Ascent: self-titled
Aaron Collier

Psalm 120

English Standard Version (ESV)

Deliver Me, O Lord

A Song of Ascents. 

In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
Deliver me, O Lord,
    from lying lips,
    from a deceitful tongue.
What shall be given to you,
    and what more shall be done to you,
    you deceitful tongue?
A warrior's sharp arrows,
    with glowing coals of the broom tree!
Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
    that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling
    among those who hate peace.
I am for peace,
    but when I speak, they are for war!

A song of response for those living in exile:  Psalm Forty-Two by Sojourn Music

Psalm 121

English Standard Version (ESV)

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

 lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121 in song: I Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills (Psalm 121) from Now and Not Yet: Acoustic Psalms, music by Matt Searles & sung by  Miriam Jones

Psalm 122

English Standard Version (ESV)

Let Us Go to the House of the Lord

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

 I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for[a] Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
    the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions' sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your good.

Psalm 122 in song: The peace of Jerusalem by Abraham Juliot

from the musician:  "This song was recorded in Fall 2008. I wrote it shortly after my son Isaac passed away. It became a song of hope and peace for my soul. This is the original recording."

Psalm 123

English Standard Version (ESV)

Our Eyes Look to the Lord Our God

A Song of Ascents.

 To you I lift up my eyes,
    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
    look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
    to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    till he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
    for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
    of the scorn of those who are at ease,
    of the contempt of the proud.

A prayer for mercy:  Kyrie by Bifrost Arts

Psalm 123 - Help Higher Than the Hills
Aaron Collier

Suggested Resources for Lent:

                                                                           Source: viaTamara on Pinterest

    Now it's your turn!  What art are you enjoying this season? 
     Tell us about it in the  comments below.  
    If you've written your own post, share the link.
    "Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east." Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Wreck of the Deutschland

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