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Thursday, April 7, 2016

SongStories 47: You (Stony Landscapes, 1994, GIA)

Psalm 65 just comes around once every three years on Sunday, on the day when the parable of the sower comes up as the gospel. I wanted to write a psalm setting that drew attention to the sower in the parable, hence, the simple title "You," and the repetition of the word throughout the paraphrase of the psalm. The antiphon given in the lectionary, "The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest," in my view hides the central truth of the parable, which is that the Sower is so abundant with the sowing. While the lectionary refrain seems to emphasize a moralistic interpretation of the parable, that somehow we're responsible for the kind of "ground" we are, the parable itself, allegorical interpretations aside, emphasizes the sower, who throws that seed everywhere! That the gospel writer goes on to give an allegorical interpretation to the parable is undeniable, but its quite likely that the interpretation is not the point that Jesus tried to make in the telling.



As I wrote in a blog post from July 2014, the last time this psalm and gospel were used, "the reign of God is God's work, and it is being sown everywhere. Also, and perhaps more importantly, failure, miracle, and normalcy' are all part of the way the kingdom operates. In the beautiful conclusion of Bernard Brandon Scott,
In failure and everydayness lies the miracle of God's activity. The accidents of failure are not exploited for their possible moral overtones, but are coordinated with the harvest. The hearer who navigates within this triangle can experience God's ruling activity under the most unfamiliar guises, even among prostitutes and tax collectors–in the everyday... Both the ordinary and the unclean belong to the miracle of the kingdom. The kingdom does not need the moral perfection of the Torah nor the apocalyptic solution of overwhelming harvest. (Hear Then the Parable, Bernard Brandon Scott, © 1989 Fortress Press)
"
Aside from its use again on Terry's 2003 album Family Resemblance, this was the only time we've used pedal steel guitar on one of our recordings.

The rhythm section included the awesome Beth Lederman on piano, Tim Downs on drums, and Jon Murray on bass, aided by Todd Chuba on percussion and Gary Daigle on guitars. This link will take you to the page on the GIA website where you'll find more information on the music and CD.


You (Psalm 65)  by Rory Cooney

You
You visit the earth
You make it fruitful
You make it bloom
You
Your rivers overflow
Spilling to earth in the rain
You call forth the grain.

To you belong the sowing and the harvest,
To you alone the rainfall and the sun
We will praise your name
You have staked your claim
On the fierce and stony landscape of the human heart.

You
You send us the rain
Water the furrows
Soften the land
You
You bless every seedling
You crown the year every spring
With the bounty of your hand. (ref.)

Wherever you walk
The earth begins to blossom
Even desert pastures
Are kissed by the dew
Flocks in the meadows
Wheat in the valleys
All sing their joy to you
To you.

To you belong the sowing and the harvest,
To you alone the rainfall and the sun
We will praise your name
You have staked your claim
On the fierce and stony landscape of the human heart
On the fierce and stony landscape of the heart.

("Psalm 65: You" by Rory Cooney © 1994 GIA Publications)