Saturday, March 19, 2005

Notes from the Music Guy XVI

Once a year, we all sing Psalm 22. We echo Jesus on the cross: "My God, why have you abandoned me?" At least that's what the assembly sings.

But the cantor's part is a bit more hopeful: it starts with feelings of abandonment, but it moves to cautious optimism - "...but you O Lord be not far from me", and then to all out praise - "All you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him!"

It's kind of hard to convey that shift in message when we keep reverting to a refrain that asks why we were abandoned. This year, we're trying a setting of Psalm 22 that has two responses: "My God, my God, why have You abandoned me" for the beginning, and "I will praise You!" for the end. It moves through the same wide range of emotions that the original psalm does.

It's been suggested, often, that Jesus quoted this psalm from the cross, not because he felt abandoned, but because he knew his disciples were feeling that way, AND he knew that they knew the rest of this psalm. So He started it out, knowing that they could finish it in their heads - and wind up in a place where they were praising God. I don't know if it's true, but it's certainly true that God did not abandon his Son, and does not abandon us either. Even when it seems that way.

May Christ be the song in your heart,


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