Monday 29 March 2021

Psalms 72

It's a slow business getting through the psalms. The translation (updated with the musical stats) from a 2010 post is here.

Gunkel identified Psalms 72 as a 'royal' psalm, 'royal' being one of  'five basic types' of psalm, the others being 'hymn, communal lament, individual lament, and individual song of praise.' (Tate 1990, p222) As you can imagine based on my comment on the previous post, this reduces to three types: royal, lament, and song of praise. Of these I think royal is a useless category. This list leaves me cold. What about historical, like Psalms 78? What about wisdom? 

Even then, Psalms is a book of praises moving us and the whole people away from our tendency to me-first individualism into a single worshipping body, utterly delighted in the work of God, and caring for the least among us as Yahweh does. This is the substance of what is called Torah, wrongly called 'Law' and better received as instruction from the Mystery. 

You will not be disappointed. You will not miss your misbegotten individualistic freedom in this service. You will use every bit of your intellect and strength and heart to achieve and be rewarded with the blessings of these poems. There are more makarisms in the Psalms than anywhere in the Bible. At a quick glance I count 25 in the Psalms, 36 altogether in TNK (see the link below). 

To take part in the happiness (awr) requires steps (awr). Let my steps (awuri) be so guided that I may be in the happiness stated (awri). Scan the concordance to find steps. You will notice things.

The music is below. Sing and imagine the structure imposed by the music. Someone - do it in the Locrian mode - (See this video for an intro.)

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Psalms 71

Continuing in Book 2 where I left off at the end of February. Two more psalms remain in book 2 (71, 72). Tate delays his explanation of part of Psalms 70 to his chapter on Psalms 71. There are connections in the appeals, as shown by this selective comparison of word usage in the two psalms. 

Word / Gloss 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Vs Stem
יבשו let them be ashamed
70:3 בוש
ויחפרו and disappointed
70:3 חפר
מבקשי who seek
70:3 בקש
נפשי my being
70:3 נפש
ויכלמו and be humiliated
70:3 כלם
רעתי my hurt
70:3 רעע
ישובו let them turn
70:4 שוב
בשתם in their shame
70:4 בוש
מבקשיך those who seek you
70:5 בקש
יגדל great is
70:5 גדל
אבושה I will be ashamed
71:1 בוש
נפשי my being
71:10 נפש
יבשו let be ashamed
71:13 בוש
נפשי my being
71:13 נפש
וכלמה and humiliation
71:13 כלם
מבקשי who seek
71:13 בקש
רעתי my hurt
71:13 רעע
גדלות great things
71:19 גדל
ורעות and hurtful
71:20 רעע
תשוב you will turn
71:20 שוב
תשוב you will turn
71:20 שוב
גדלתי my greatness
71:21 גדל
ונפשי and my being
71:23 נפש
בשו they are shamed
71:24 בוש
חפרו they are disappointed
71:24 חפר
מבקשי who seek
71:24 בקש
רעתי my hurt
71:24 רעע
Way back in 2011 I did this psalm. I have updated it with its syllabic and musical measurements. You will find the psalm at the link. Then below is the music so that each can be opened easily in separate windows for analysis.

Verse 4 has a strange form.  It is one of about a dozen verses that has no return to the tonic at the end of the verse. The melody leaves you up in the air or prematurely cut off. (Or it may just be an error.) It is clearly fixed in the restored version of the Aleppo version here.

Tate focuses on the individuality of this psalm. I think the I and the me in the psalms should not be considered individual except as the individual is representing the people. This is why the phrase kings and priests is used of those who are 'in' God or 'in' Christ. Because none of us can live alone or be saved alone. You cannot live for a moment without the support of hundreds of others around you who may or may not be part of your 'crowd'. We are one body whether we like it or not. So when we pray as unique and as individual, we are always taking into our prayer the whole body of which we are a part, even those parts of the body that seek to do other parts of the body harm. These are prayed for that through shame they may be restored to the unity that cannot be 'coerced' but that nevertheless must be. (A house divided cannot stand.)

What I have noted about prosody and the music at this point is that to do it justice requires far more time than I have at present. So I will continue this discipline of reading and presenting the psalms, but I will not try and put words to what cannot have words put to it. We are working on the next music project and I hope this project will continue to provide real performances that illustrate the prosody without a lot of words. It is the time to get composers to work out each psalm. It is not the time for explanation.