Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 40, 54 (Morning)
Psalm 51 (Evening)
“O Lord, make haste to help me.”
Surely I’m not the only one in this crowd who has turned to Psalm 40 in times of deep sorrow or distress, for ourselves or for others: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock….” “Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me.”
Like so many of the Psalms, this one gives utterance to our deepest feelings, even (or especially), when our own words fail us. Because the Psalms are so entrenched in our culture, we often take for granted the poetic and spiritual gifts, not only of the Hebrew writers, but also the translators (Tyndale, Coverdale, King James’ big committee, and all the rest) who gave us the English Bible. We are all in their debt.
Translators of the Psalms are on my mind right now because one of them will be speaking at St. Paul’s tomorrow, January 27. Poet J. Chester Johnson will talk about his work, in collaboration with the English-American poet W. H. Auden and others, in translating the Psalms for our current Book of Common Prayer. Chester is making a return visit as our McMichael lecturer, and his topic for Saturday night (as well as the title of his new book) is “Auden, the Psalms, and Me.” I’ll be there, and I hope you will be too.
Written by Bob McMath
Bob and his wife, Linda, are choristers and Community Meals volunteers, and Bob serves as a lay reader at the 11:00 service. They have been members of St. Paul’s since moving to Fayetteville in 2005.