Adoration and Praise – Entering the Temple of the LORD

Day 2 – Morning – Psalms 9-11

Ran across this gem while singing the Psalms this morning – an instrumental interpretation of Psalm 24:2 –

for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters

by the praise band, The Ramp. It’s part of an album titled Ascend: Prayer Instrumentals that includes interpretations of the ten verses of Psalm 24. After snatching it up for my collection of Psalm settings from iTunes – now at 698 songs (see Footnote below) – I prayed for a while using this powerful collection and then got to thinking…

I have often marvelled at the how the editing and gathering of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures coincides with the destruction of Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples by Babylon and Rome. By the Kebar River, Ezekiel experiences a vision of a third Temple – one not made with hands, recorded in Chapter 40-43 of his prophetic testimony. As I have studied these foundational events and the profound effect they had on God’s people, I have come to believe that for Jews and for Christians, the scriptures became God’s Temple for us that could not be destroyed. I’d love to spend more time with this notion – having found so little made of it in print – but that will have to wait for another time.

Suffice it to say for now that if God’s Word in Jewish and Christian scriptures is our Temple – our sanctuary and place of refuge and formation – then the Psalms must be the gates of that Temple. Perhaps that explains this powerful obsession God has given me for all things Psalms for several years now – with no signs of abating anytime soon. And this obsession, by the way, has opened my eyes of an entire culture of praise threading its way through the centuries as countless other worshippers have been drawn to these gates of Praise.

The Psalter guides us to the heart of God
to the place of sanctuary in the wilderness

I had a vision of curating a worship experience cultivating this entry – using the music of this album – or music very much like it – along with special lighting (laser and candle, digital and incandescent), in a darkened, comfortable, open space with carpeted floors and a screen for displaying something like the iTunes Visualizer. We could focus on each of the verses in turn, using them as a mantra, until we immersed ourselves in the spaces between and beyond the words, not for understanding, but to experience the living praise of our God and to enter the Courts of the LORD – to be transformed and healed and resurrected there as the people of God. Lost in wonder, love and praise.

It seems as if the more I explore, the deeper and more unfathomable the Psalms become. This past week, I have discovered that the second (Easter) portion of Handel’s Messiah includes Psalm settings of six of the Psalms, including four settings of verses 1-4, and 9 of the Second Psalm. In late November, I rediscovered The Psalm Project – a Dutch group of Christians dedicating themselves to arranging contemporary versions of the Genevan Psalter settings (they make all of their lyric/music sheets available for free and have recorded several of their albums in English).

I also discovered a Hebrew rendering of the 15 Psalms of Ascent – by Waltraud Rennebaum and the Ensemble Shoshan. I’m on the hunt for a singable collection of these pilgrim songs. Earlier in November – November, 2016 was a great month – I stumbled upon Handel’s Dixit Dominus, a nine movement interpretation of Psalm 110. Apparently this is a thing. And little wonder, as the 110th Psalm is the most-quoted Psalm in the New Testament.

Finally, I found  wonderful, 22-part interpretation of the 119th Psalm by Charles Ciepiel, which matches the text wonderfully and powerfully. This find in September – and I’ve since had the opportunity of using it in devotions over the two and a half days the BCP assigns the readings of the 119th. Speaking of which, I have included calendar appointments on my master calendar for all of the monthly BCP readings/singings/prayers of the Psalms. Evenings are still much harder that mornings, but I’m getting there.