Friday, 9 February 2007

Psalms of David: Psalm 90:1-17

Many years ago when I was parish pastor of the Lutheran Churches in Knox, Frankston and Berwick in Melbourne, I tried to get the folk singing psalms by paraphrasing the psalm for the day into metrical hymns to be sung to well known tunes. There is a long tradition of this in reformed Christianity, but it is fairly unknown in the Catholic Church. (In fact, it is prohibited to replace the responsorial psalm used in the liturgy with a paraphrase.) Over the years, I did a fair few of these, and many of them were published in the Lutheran Worship Resources, and every now and again I hear of one of them being sung about the traps.

Anyway, this following hymn is one of the better examples of the genre. It is a popular metre and can be sung to many tunes, including the ever popular "Ode to Joy", but for the best effect, use the Haugen tune I have suggested. Nb. On no account ever use the words that Haugen wrote for this tune. Pure pantheism which has more in common with American Indian spirituality than Christianity.

PSALM 90:1-17 Tune: Haugen's “Song at the Centre”, Gather Australia 399 or As One Voice, Vol. 2, No. 74; otherwise Hyfrydol TIS 233, Friend LH 426, or Austria TIS 93

1. Lord, throughout all generations,
you have been our dwelling place,
long before the birth of mountains,
long before the world was made,
you were God then, now and ever,
everlasting still the same,
but one word returns us mortals
back to dust from whence we came.

2. For a thousand years of history
are as nothing in your sight,
they’re like yesterday now passing,
like an hour in the night;
they are swept away on waking
like a dream at break of day,
they’re like grass that grows in morning,
and in evening fades away.

3. Lord, your angry indignation
has consumed us all with fear,
for our sin and our transgression
by your light has been made clear.
Lord, your wrath has been our burden,
as our short lives pass away.
All our lives are filled with suff’ring,
and our years end with a sigh.

4. We may live for seven decades--
if we’re strong, then maybe eight--
but their span is grief and sorrow
when they’re gone, we fade away.
Yet before your mighty anger,
should we not all be afraid?
So that we might have true wisdom,
teach us how to count our days.

5. Turn, O Lord, and have compassion!
How long will your people wait?
Fill our hunger in the morning
with your steadfast love and grace,
so that we may rise rejoicing
and be glad through all our days.
For as long as we have suffered,
give us joy and happiness.

6. Let the work of your salvation
be made plain in human sight;
show your people and their children
the great splendour of your might.
Let your blessing and your favour
be on us, O Lord our God:
bless our passing small achievements
with your everlasting word.


Ttony said...

"In fact, it is prohibited to replace the responsorial psalm used in the liturgy with a paraphrase."

Please could you provide me with an authoritative source for this: I'm afraid that an English Parish Priest will probably not accept a blogger as authoritative!

Best wishes


Schütz said...

Dear Tony,

It depends to a degree on the version of GIRM that is valid for the United Kingdom. The clearest statement is in the US version, which says (in para. 61) "In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm."

That paragraph has not actually been included in the new Australian version of the 2000 GIRM, but it seems to me that the statement "The responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should, as a rule, be taken from the Lectionary" (which is in all versions of the GIRM and is in the Latin original "Psalmus responsorius unicuique lectioni respondeat et e lectionario de more sumatur") is clear enough.

If that isn't enough, then this instruction at Paragraph 57 should also cover it (quoting from the Australian GIRM):

57. In the readings, the table of God’s word is prepared for the faithful, and the riches of the Bible are opened to them.61 Hence, it is preferable to maintain the arrangement of the biblical readings, by which light is shed on the unity of both Testaments and of salvation history. Moreover, it is unlawful to substitute other, non-biblical texts for the readings and responsorial Psalm, which contain the word of God.

I think a paraphrase would have to count as a "non-biblical text".

I hope that is helpful.

steve remnant4 said...

I'd like to use your paraphrase of Psalm 90 for a small congregation celebrating a Memorial Service in honor of my Dad's life.

Schütz said...

You are welcome, Steve. Go for it.

tiger said...