Monday, June 1, 2009


One of my choristers has just gone (is going) through a challenging time at work, with lots of lay-offs around her. Yesterday she told me about how a recent anthem continued to serve her spirit during the worst of it. We had just sung the Dale Grotenhuis anthem "Praise the Lord, all you nations." He combines Psalm 117 (the shortest of the psalms) with some verses from Psalm 116. It is an interesting juxtaposition, and one that few would think of. I think it's brilliant, but I don't know exactly why.

Praise the Lord, all you nations, praise him all you peoples. For great is his love for us, and his faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord! That's it - you could memorize the entire psalm in about 23 seconds. Grotenhuis used this as a bookend to these interior verses from the preceding psalm: I love the Lord. He heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is gracious, the Lord is righteous, our God is full of compassion. Then be at rest once more, O my soul. For God has been good to you. The text from 117 is bright, mixed meter, big; the middle section legato, slow, thoughtful. I hope this thing is still in print!

Anyway, Ms. Chorister was reading in the psalms one morning after this anthem was sung, while all this was going on at work, and Psalm 116 was on the list for the day. She hadn't worked out how the anthem text was put together, so she wasn't expecting to see the anthem text in that day. When she got to these verses, the anthem sprang to mind - understandably - and stayed with her through the day.

This is a fairly common experience, and many of you who read this have experienced something like it yourselves. I never tire of hearing it, and I am delighted when it happens to me.

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