Meditations on Psalms and Holiday Spirit Via Handel

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 2 (Morning)
Psalm 19 (Evening)
Isaiah 49:13-23
Isaiah 54:1-13
Matthew 18:1-4

Meditations on Psalms and Holiday Spirit Via Handel

The poetic music of today’s Psalms comes to mind with mental musical accompaniment from the literally divine Handel’s Messiah. Though written from the perspective of King David’s powerful identification of the Lord against his conspiratorial enemies, the language surely has evoked contemporary politics and war for all readers ever since. In Handel’s words, Psalms 2:1,2,4 and 1-9:

Why do the nations so furiously rage together: why do the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth rise up, and rulers take counsels together against the Lord and His anointed. He that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision.

And then the powerful 9th verse:

“Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron: thou shalt dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Christians have forever lived with the tension between the beauty of “the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things,” which Handel employs in the “Duetto for 2 Alto Solos and Chorus” from Romans 10:15. In the competing spirit of Psalm 1:9, Handel’s wording repeats David’s furious hope that the Lord will violently destroy those enemies of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. Such opposing proclivities must describe the human psyche.

This holiday season may be the ideal time of year to grapple with the disparity between seeking a mindset marked by love, generosity, and compassion, while at the same time often feeling exhaustion, financial pressures, and aggravation at the persistent tendencies of some toward quarrelsome jealousies. Tenderly cherishing the birth of our Redeemer, “the prince of peace,” some may hold a secret wish, that were it possible to annihilate a certain worrisome nation without dooming the rest of the human race, we would like to see it done. Some may inwardly wish “To break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” After all, David wished that there be nothing left of those conspiratorial enemies, although not at the micro level.

The evening Psalm, 19, leaves us with the final, almost desperate, hope that God will guide us: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer,” Amen.

Written by Pamela Mellott

Pamela holds a Ph.D. in English Renaissance Literature and the History of Medicine from the University of California, Riverside, and UCLA, granted 1998. She and husband, Kerby, have been appreciative members of St. Paul’s since September, 2016, when Kerby retired from the University of California, Irvine, Medical Center. They resided in San Dimas, California.

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