Visit our new site at

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Psalm 139 - "If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there."

Joseph Gelineau, SJ, who brought the most ancient traditions back to life in chanted psalmody with his use of the "sprung rhythms" found in the original Hebrew and ancient tones, died last month. The introduction to my copy of the Grail psalter, which uses the Gelineau tones with a lovely English translation of the texts, remarks "the psalms are in our very bones". For me at least this is true. So often I find the words of the psalter rising unbidden to my lips, in times of joy, or of great sadness.

Gannet Girl found this psalm in her grief, and it has run through my mind all these last days, as I pray it for her, for her son. It brought me back to the dark hours of a Holy Thursday more than twenty years ago, to a hospital waiting room, praying this verse from Psalm 29 (30): At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn. There were many tears that night. While there was to be no joy for me at dawn, only a yawning emptiness; for my spouse, the joys of heaven were his, I'm confident. The psalm let me surrender to that mystery of pain and certainty.

The psalms still give voice to my griefs, my joys, my angers, my failings...they hold me up. They are my very bones.

What psalms are in your bones?


  1. This morning, Psalm 114, sung in Plainchant. I love the terrible silliness of this:

    The mountains skipped like rams
    And the little hills like young sheep
    What ailed you, O sea, that you fled?
    O Jordan, that you turned back?

  2. I love this translation...

    "What ailed you, O sea..."!!

    Thanks for sharing...

  3. mine is psalm 84: "how lovely, lord how lovely is your abiding place" I hum it often.


You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.