Thursday, September 04, 2008

to sing again: Psalm 149

I'm cross-posting this in its entirety from David Baer's blog, one of the dear friends who graced us with his presence in celebration last weekend. Thanks, Dave; I wouldn't even try to say it better myself.

** a wedding gift for J.R. and Molly Friesen, married yesterday in Billings,
Montana, USA

The rhythm of life with Yahweh includes periods of silence and still others when the only audible sound is a groan. It is the good fortune of those whom Yahweh accompanies that this unmelodious moment is, if not short-lived, then at least bound to its season. Despair’s silence and pain’s sigh are conceded their space on the enigmatic score, yet they are not intended to dominate the course from one movement to another nor to usurp the final one.

Rather, the biblical poets alert us to the ambitious, spontaneous eruption of a new song. The thrusting forth of this dance-able melody comes often when least expected and casts all subdominant grief in a new harmonic frame. What a moment ago sounded forth with tyrannical self-confidence is understood now to have been a foil, a prelude, the musical antechamber to ejaculative joy of the kind that no prior musical experience has quite prepared one to encounter.

A new song has no resonance for those who have not sorrowed in silence. Its appeal is lost on those who have not wept long into a bitter night in the full expectation that the morning, too, will be drenched by these damned, relentless tears. No one is more surprised by the entrée of this thoroughly modern music than the one whose tongue and throat burst forth in its almost involuntary frenzy.

Always the impulse comes from Yahweh’s having acted again, magnificently, mercifully, astonishingly, restoratively. Nearly always circumstances have conspired to persuade the eventual singer of new songs that Yahweh himself has gone missing or at least abandoned the artistry of creation and new creation. Where once his touch, his gift for redemptive surprise has nourished the soul and lifted one’s gaze, Yahweh now seems like a rustic tale, the stuff of worn memory that adorns the margins of knowing cynicism. Yahweh and his music have been become a mockery. One remembers his songs as in a dream, dry, cracked, ephemeral, hardly there. The shame of having been an easy mark lingers on those barely remembered notes, of having been taken in, of having fallen for things that only seemed to be beautiful but are not.

Suddenly, a song is birthed. One can hardly speak of music’s return, for this melody is fresher, newer, more soaring than the old stuff. This song is new. Yahweh has turned, music bursts again, there is dancing in the streets and noisy pleasure upon the couches of redeemed lovers.

For the LORD takes
pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful exult in glory;let them sing for joy on their couches.

With time, Yahweh’s chasidiym—his faithful ones—will again be enveloped in silence, wrapped into sorrow, quiet in their pain. Yet with time they will discern the always possible irruption of music’s dawn, of a new song, of the recurring proof that silence and groans are penultimate. Faced down, bounded in by enduring love, the end of such things is always near. Like darkness to light, like silence to sound, like mourning to joy, irrepressible love will not stand their presumptions of tyranny.

Always it is true: his faithful ones will sing again.

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