Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
November 18, 2020
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 150, the final chapter of the Book of Psalms.
When any of us writes or speaks an important message, we usually take pains to make sure the final comments are direct and powerful. We want our last words to make an significant impact on our audience.
I think the Book of Psalms wants to do the same thing.
So what’s the ultimate ringing word these sacred chapters leave with us?
And it’s not a gentle suggestion. The psalm charges us to SHOUT our praise! To make noise with our acclamations of God! To be absolutely cacophonous in our exaltation. We are to praise God:
- with the blast of the trumpet,
- with lyre and harp,
- with timbrel and dance,
- with strings and pipe.
- with sounding cymbals,
- with clanging cymbals
One might come away thinking we must be noisy in showing our love for God. But there are so many ways we “shout”, even in our silence.
I think this morning of my Sisters at McAuley Convent, in the quiet accumulation of their elder years. There is very little noise in that beloved community. Still, everything about them shouts praise, gratitude, and faith – all without their even having to say a word.
True praise is an energy, not a sound. It is the direction of our whole being toward the God Who gives us life. It is the gathering of everything about our existence and lifting it all toward God in confidence of its transformation.
It is the quiet sound of our every breath streaming “Alleluias” over all Creation. It is the final word of our being after everything else is said.
Let everything that has breath
praise the LORD! Alleluia
Poetry: Praising Manners by Rumi
We should ask God
To help us toward manners. Inner gifts
Do not find their way
To creatures without just respect.
If a man or woman flails about, they not only
Destroy their own house,
They incinerate the whole world.
Your depression is connected to your insolence
And your refusal to praise. If a man or woman is
On the path, and refuses to praise — that man or woman
Steals from others every day — in fact is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of itself.
Angels began shining when they achieved discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of not-praising comes near.
The moment that foolish angel felt insolent, he heard the door close.
Music: J.S. Bach: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV. 225
Bach’s motet springs to life with the insistent repetition of this word, bouncing between two choirs. It’s a joyful and dazzlingly virtuosic celebration of the human voice, culminating in a mighty four-voice fugue.
This motet was performed for Mozart when he visited Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church in 1789. (Bach was music director at the church from 1723 until his death in 1750). Johann Friedrich Doles, a student of Bach who directed the performance wrote,
As soon as the choir had sung a few bars, Mozart started; after a few more he exclaimed: ‘What is that?’ And now his whole soul seemed to be centered in his ears. When the song was ended, he cried out with delight: ‘Now, here is something one can learn from!’( taken from https://thelistenersclub.com/2019/10/11/joyful-sounds-of-praise-five-musical-settings-of-psalm-150/ )