“Come let us sing for joy to the Lord”
The oracle in verses 8 and 9 leaves us with a question. How will we respond to the Psalm, today, as we strive to listen to God’s voice? Like many of Jesus parables, we are invited into the story and invited to respond. Will we listen and obey and move forward into God’s rest? Or will our fallow, shallow hearts turn away once again?
But the end of the Psalm also takes us back to the beginning. Once of the things we often forget when reading the Psalms is that they were written to be set to music. We have the words. We know they would be offered in worship by soloists and choirs, by musicians. But beyond that we know very little about the tunes and the ways they would be delivered.
Sometimes we can infer things from the words of the Psalm. The opening verses of Psalm 95, we would expect, would be set in a major key, perhaps quite loud, summoning us to worship. The middle verses might be quieter, encouraging us to still our hearts to listen. The final verses, the oracle, might be set to a different key, encouraging us to listen, to draw near, to come home.
However, like many modern songs, it’s likely I think that the first half of the Psalm is also a kind of chorus or chant. At the end of the oracle, as the question hangs in the air, there would, I imagine, be silence and stillness, an opportunity to hear God’s voice. But then, more quietly and slowly, the musicians take us back to the beginning: “Come let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation:. The rhythm of our worship is to be caught up in the great conversation: to offer our praise and thanksgiving to God and to listen to his voice each day through Scripture and in Jesus. The rhythm of our lives is to attend to that voice and to live out what we hear in word and in deed as we journey to that rest which we are promised.
Many thanks for journeying with me through Psalm 95 over this last month. I wasn’t sure when I began the blog whether it could be sustained or what I would find. It’s been good to know that others have been reading with me across the Diocese and even in other parts of the world.
Come let us sing for joy to the Lord….. Today if you will listen to his voice……
Postscript: there are several good musical settings of Psalm 95. The one I have returned to again and again this month has been the song “Come let us worship the LORD” by the Fransiscan, John Michael Talbot. I commend it to you.