Seven New Psalms for the ‘New Normal’
In his book Reflections on the Psalms, “beloved Anglican author C. S. Lewis brings sophistication, wisdom, and reverence to his discussion of the Old Testament Book of Psalms, as he explores the relevance of these ancient prayers, poems and songs to our contemporary lives.” So says the blurb on the jacket of his book.
In his introduction, Lewis writes, “Most emphatically, the Psalms must be read as poems; as lyrics, with all the licenses, all the formalities, the hyperboles, the emotional rather than logical connections, which are proper to lyric poetry. They must be read as poems if they are to be understood…otherwise we shall miss what is in them and think we see what is not.”
As Episcopalians and Anglicans, we confront the Psalms in our liturgy every week in our lectionary, wedged in between the Old and New Testament lessons. We say them together reciting by whole- or half-verse, rarely if ever giving ourselves time to reflect on them as we sit back to hear the next lesson. We do not allow ourselves the time to hear and understand the depth of the lament the psalmists expressed, or the breadth of the praise they voiced for God, despite their grieving and sorrow.
During this time of sequestering and protecting ourselves from perhaps the most devastating pandemic in our lifetimes, it seems like a good time to get acquainted with the Psalms. So, during Holy Week, several of your St. John’s friends held a “pop-up” study group, where we got together daily from Palm Sunday through Good Friday via Zoom Meetings to read and reflect on Lewis’s book and to explore the Book of Psalms. We read psalms, heard them sung, watched YouTube lectures, and discussed a lot.
But something happened during these meetings that was totally spontaneous – another “pop-up” – we decided to write our own psalms, in the style of those in the Psalter but reflecting our own lamentations and praise concerning our immediate personal situation.
So here are seven New Psalms for the ‘New Normal’, written from the heart – and perhaps with a bit of tongue-in-cheek – by your fellow congregants and friends during a sequestered Holy Week 2020.
Beloved Father, you care for your flock
Each sheep is special to you
You love us dearly, no matter what we do
You forgive us fully, no matter what we do
You protect us daily, no matter what we do
How can we repay you for your amazing love?
Like a Shepard, you feed us
Like a Shepard, you guide us
Like a Shepard, you protect us
We are never alone
What did we do to deserve this?
Let our hearts always be grateful
Let our hearts be always grateful for your amazing love, Beloved Father.
Praise be, from the beginning of my life, God you were there. Praise God: you are always with me.
Your goodness and glory have been the very substance of my life, nurturing me through the years.
Times when my path was difficult, I never doubted your love and guidance God, would be the light to see me through.
Shrouded by your Heavenly Host, I never doubted my Faith.
These past weeks with my granddaughter’s family, have been a true Blessing, and I thank you God: for giving me this time.
With a new baby, entering our lives any day now. God: your glory is abounding.
My fears, are for all the people in this world, who have suffered the loss of loved ones to this virus
Families displaced and separated, how God; do they keep the faith
My faith has been tested when I cannot kiss or hug to show my love. When my very kisses and hugs are turned into weapons, that could kill the very people I adore.
I pray to you O Lord this never becomes the new normal. I pray dear Lord, that one day we can resume going to our churches, loving and singing your praises as one! Amen.
O God, hear my plea through the chaos of a million cries of anguish;
O Lord, among the throngs of voices discern my singular despair.
I am surrounded by my enemies,
I am crushed by the malice in their hearts,
I am overwhelmed by the venom in their tongues,
I am engulfed by the wave of their hatred.
Why have you forsaken me?
Why do you sit and watch and do nothing?
Why do you not answer me?
Why do you not destroy them for their evil?
Why do you not bring your wrath down on those who treat your children so.
But you, oh Lord, are Gentle.
You, oh Lord, are Patient.
You, oh Lord, are Wisdom.
You, oh Lord, are Abba, Father.
You have opened my eyes
The gift of sight you graciously have bestowed.
I see the malice in my own heart
I see the venom in my own tongue
My hatred flows like a mighty wave
I see the enemy of my own sin.
But you, oh God, did not abandon me,
You, oh God, did not sit by and do nothing.
O God, you heard my plea through the chaos of a million cries of anguish.
O Lord, among the throngs of voices you discerned my singular despair.
You sent your son for my sin.
You gave you son to save me.
The Peace of Christ now fills my heart,
The Peace of Christ now fills my tongue,
Christ’s love engulfs me like a wave,
O Father God and Savior, you surround me.
How can I keep from Praising!
I thank you God for the splendor of the Nature.
The chirping birds in the morning.
The owls that hoot at night.
The majestic eagles that glide at night.
Your wonderful gifts to us.
I thank you God for the gifts of nature.
The tulips popping out of the earth.
The swelling of buds as new life is born.
The green is the grass again.
Your gifts of a colorful world to enjoy.
I thank you God for the gifts of nature.
A doe and her fawn dancing in the fields.
The butterflies so colorful as they flutter around.
With the sun’s rays and rains meeting their needs.
Your gifts of insects and animals.
I thank you God for the gift of nature.
For the rains and the babbling of a brooks.
And the loud noises of the awesome waterfalls.
The calming silent of a lake or ocean.
These are the gifts that calm my soul.
I thank you God for the gifts for the diversity of all nature.
for the awesome mountains reaching to the sky.
reminding me of the great temples of the ages.
I so love to sit and meditate in its beauty.
Oh the peace and love I feel in God’s nature.
I thank you God for all the gifts of nature.
But we, your children have not cared for them.
We’ve polluted your rivers, streams, and oceans.
We’ve cut down trees needlessly for our selfish needs
I pray that everyone would stop destroying nature, now.
I thank you God for all your gifts of nature.
But we your children have not taken care of nature.
We polluted oceans, lakes with our garbage and plastic.
We destroyed too many trees changing nature’s balance.
Please God help us to save this awesome world NOW.
My teacher, who lives in many exalted places, is a very stable genius; my teacher knows more than the doctors and the scientists and the lawyers and the judges, more even than my last teacher and those who came before.
But others are saying my teacher is filled with deceit; My teacher creates his own truth to enrich his family’s wealth and satisfy his egotistic fantasies.
My teacher says the virus is a genius that knows how to attack no matter what we do; the virus is a deceiver that lies to us and feeds from us to satisfy itself and we cannot escape.
But others say the virus cannot trick us if we understand its ways; we are safe if we protect ourselves from its wrath.
O God of all knowledge, where shall I find the truth?
As you appeared to Jesus at his baptism by water and proclaimed Him you’re your Son, appear to me now as I wash my hands; seven times seven are the times I will wash my hands each day to know your truth.
Your gift of water is cleansing, healing, and provides hope; your gift of water is an act of self-care, an act of service to others.
When I wash my hands, I will close my eyes; I will imagine that you are there, taking my hands, and gently washing them for me.
I will not forget my thumbs.
I will participate in this act of service and truth, and while I pray in this way, I will know that my brothers and sisters are doing it, too.
God of all knowledge, you are the True Teacher that I serve.
The invisible enemy sought me out. It looked for me everywhere I went.
I saw refuge in my home. Even there I was afraid.
It found its way into my thoughts. And it kept me from rest.
It invaded my peace. And stole the calm of everyone I knew.
I feared it taking my breath. And it is leaving me drenched in fever.
Where can I go? It follows me around the earth.
The enemy has captured thousands. Where can I turn?
The masked warriors grow weary. And the doctors have no cure.
The darkness looms heavy. And the night lasts forever.
Where is my hope? Where do I find solace?
Each morning the sun shines on the dying. And the birds sing over the wailing.
God of dawn and sunsets: Hear my cries! Hear my cries!
You, God, can save me. And keep the enemy at bay.
You can set my mind at rest. And watch over me as I sleep.
You have saved me from many trials. And you will save me again.
I will rejoice in my life, and in all things you have created. Hear my cries! Hear my cries!
I worship You the Almighty God because you are the creator.
I worship you the son who became man.
Without reservation You created all beautiful, you created all equal,
You created all for you. You love all without reservation. All are to give you praise in love, all are to give you praise in service.
I thank you for your mercy and the merciful. Thank You for desiring and longing for us to be whole. I thank you the Son, for the story of your suffering and the power of your resurrection. Let me stand close to Calvary to learn about the offering of hope.
They are born troubled; they are born with longing heart. Disparity follows them everywhere. Open the eyes of our hearts, where racism, prestige, privilege, and greed blind the mind. Capitalism, socialism, classism, racism blind the bounty. Social injustice is rampant.
Inspire and empower us to show and see love where neglect takes over. Result of wrongdoing is revealed in suffering, suffering that is revealed by disasters. Disasters like COVID 19, hurricanes and our disbelieve in your love for all.
Your grace covers all. I long for miraculous change of hearts, minds, and souls.
On behalf of the psalmists of St. John’s during this Eastertide 2020,
Have a Blessed Week!