I watched the morning news with the pause button in hand, so that I could stop and pray about individual news stories. My instinct was to curl up with a bowl of cereal or stick in a piece of toast as I watched; I wasn’t yet hungry enough to remember I was fasting.
I even found myself thanking the Lord for a stand by President Trump. He is calling for strengthening background checks and a ban on accessories that turn legal guns into assault weapons. So common sense that it should be bi-partisan.
At lunch time, as sorely as I was tempted to pop a single chocolate into my mouth, I resisted, knowing I couldn’t let readers down by asking you to fast and then cheating myself. Instead I took a break to practice some music from the local choral society I sing with. We are doing Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms this spring, and to say that it is a difficult piece would be an understatement. It is full of unusual rhythms like 5/4 (think ONE-two-three-ONE-two ONE-two-three-ONE-two), moving to 2/4 to 5/8 to 6/4 to 2/4 and back to 5/4 before we get to page 2 and settle into 7/4. (ONE-two-three-four-ONE-two-three ONE-two-three-four-ONE-two-three.) And, oh, yeah, we’re singing transliterated Hebrew.
My favorite part is the second movement where a boy soprano (or counter tenor in this recording) begins Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my Shepherd”), joined by the women (“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”) before being interrupted by the men, singing a ferocious Psalm 2 (“Why do the nations rage and the people imagine a vain thing?”) Finally the women come back in with the second half of Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,” sung over the men, who are still throbbing with how the Lord laughs at the feeble attempts of rebels to fight him.
It seemed an appropriate thing to be singing today, an addition to prayer, not a distraction. We think we can run our own lives and there will be no consequences—like naughty toddlers running from a parent who is only trying to keep us from going into the street and being hurt. But the consequences of our rebellion are real and as painful as being hit by a car.
The third movement of Chichester Psalms slows way down with a gorgeous and sublime melody that flows through a 10/4 rhythm (ONE-two-three-four-five-ONE-two-three-four-five). “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). The chorus sings quietly without accompaniment until the final Amen in unison.
May it be.