40

“I waited patiently for the Lord

He turned and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit

out of the mire and clay.

I will sing, sing a new song

I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?”

From “40” by U2

I clearly remember the first time I heard “40” from the crackling vinyl that spun on our stereo in Aberdeen in 1983.  As Bono essentially sang Psalm 40 to a new tune, I heard a benediction that thousands could sing (and have sung) along to.

As I read the Psalms now, the words and language contain such brutal honesty, emotion, doubt, vulnerability, power and truth.  I often forget that many of them originated as songs and, therefore, a means of expressing oneself in more than words alone.  After all these generations the Word remains and the musical style is inconsequential. 

If we rewrote the Psalms today, how would they sound?  Broken and stripped back at times?  Angst ridden and frustrated?  Full of joy and wonder? 

I’d love to hear an album where artists were asked to find a Psalm that they could identify with and put it to music.  I could imagine a track listing including the minor chords and sombre tones of Leonard Cohen, the dirge of Nick Cave, the brokenness of Tom Waits, the diluted emo of Death Cab For Cutie, the conviction and political force of Woodie Guthrie, the sense of miscarriages of justice of Bright Eyes, the abandoned bliss of Polyphonic Spree, the elation of a Philharmonic Orchestra, the rush of a dance-floor filler, the anthemic gush of Coldplay, the cries from the workers of the barren fields we have raped to serve our Western comforts, the honest doubt of Pedro The Lion, the glorious noise of Aerogramme, the chaos of Iggy & The Stooges, the creative wordplays of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphopricy, the communal sounds of Ladysmith Black Mombazo. 

It would sound unlike any “The Best Praise and Worship Album In The Word Ever Part Six Squillion” compilation.  Man, they should just make a raw and honest album like that…

What would your personal psalms read or sound like?

I came across something truly beautiful on another blog this week and it inspired this post.  Please click here.

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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