Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Psalms Are Songs of Faith - Part 2

Continuing sharing this emphasis on psalms (which began here). This is the part that really struck me, especially considering that I don't like free verse poetry no matter how old it is! However, the logic of rhyming ideas ... now that I like.
Israelite Poetry
The poetry of the Israelites is somewhat different from our ordinary idea of what poetry should be. There is no rhyme nor fixed rhythm in the sense we would normally expect. It's true that the free verse movement has given us a broad idea of what poetry can be. Israelite poetry might be summed up in the saying: never say anything once that you can say twice, and better still three times. The rhythm of the psalms is a rhythm of ideas. The psalms rhyme thoughts. In the following examples see how the second line parallels the idea of the first:
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us.

Psalm 67:1

Thy solemn procession are seen, O God
the processions of my God, my Kind, into the sanctuary.

Psalm 68:24

How long, O Lord? Wilt thou be angry forever?
Will thy jealous wrath burn like fire?

Psalm 79:5
The rhythm of the poetry of the psalms is a rhythm (and rhyming) of ideas. An idea is stated and then repeated with different shades of meaning. It is the balanced drumming of a declaration that arises form the heart of one who has known the miracle of God and now speaks out of the ecstasy of response. Some psalms are the result of the experience of miracle and ecstasy. By miracle we mean the appearance of a mighty act of God, such as the Red Sea victory; by ecstasy we refer to the joyous, human faith-experience of God's work. Other psalms reflect the quiet presence of God experienced by a solitary shepherd, a religious experience when applied to God as the shepherd who protects us from harm even when we are in the valley of the shadow of death.
Fr. McBride's Guide to the Bible by Alfred McBride, P.Praem
Next: Psalms Celebrate Events as Mighty Acts of God.

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