“Bloom with Repose: Hymns of Praise” by Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian

August 12th,2021 Categories: Weekly Letter

Good Afternoon Children of God,

What a beautiful week it has been! What a beautiful world we live in! And what a beautiful time we will have in worship this Sunday at The Park! I look forward to the time we will spend rejoicing together.

One of my favorite things about The Park is the worship music. Each Sunday, the music of Charles and the talented musicians of The Park moves me, and I often find myself playing the music videos posted to our Facebook page during the week when I feel the need to spend time with God. I’ve included one of my favorites above as we turn to read this week’s scripture, a hymn of praise.

Our scripture for this week comes to us from the book of Psalms, a book filled with Hebrew Poetry and songs for when we need to spend certain kinds of time with God.  Psalms has poems of lament, thanksgiving, and praise, songs that tell stories and speak of God’s promises to God’s people. This week’s psalm is classified as a hymn, a special psalm of praise with a specific pattern. Let us read together this hymn from the Book of Psalms:

1 Alleluia!
I will thank you, YHWH, with all my heart
in the meeting of the just and their assembly.
2 Great are your works,
to be pondered by all who love them.
3 Majestic and glorious are your works,
and your justice stands firm forever.
4 You make us remember your wonders—
you are compassion and love.
5 You give food to those who revere you,
keeping your Covenant ever in mind.
6 You reveal to your people the power of your actions
by giving them the lands of the nations as their inheritance.
7 The works of your hands are truth and justice,
and all your precepts are sure,
8 standing firm forever and ever,
and carried out uprightly and faithfully.
9 You have sent deliverance to your people
and established your Covenant forever.
Your Name is holy and awe-inspiring!
10 Reverence for YHWH is the beginning of wisdom—
and those who have it prove themselves wise.
Your praise will last forever!”

[Psalms 111 (ILB) / Salmos 111 (NVI)]

This hymn of praise offers rich praise to God whom we revere alongside the psalmist. There is no story here, which is characteristic of Hebrew hymns, yet this psalm gives us all language alongside which we can testify. The center of this Psalm tells of who God is with deep faith and rich testimony. This hymn maintains a classic structure of Hebrew Poetry where the first and last verse are parallel or express the same kind of sentiment.

The psalm begins “Alleluia! I will thank you, YHWH, with all my heart in the meeting of the just and their assembly.” The Hebrew word translated as “heart” here is the word לֵבָב (ley-bawb) which can be translated this way but contains a much deeper context in Hebrew. In Hebrew, לֵבָב (ley-bawb) is a term for the inner piece of the human, the seat of the mind, the seat of understanding, the seat of love, appetite, ethics, and courage, the seat of wisdom. When the psalmist writes, “I will thank you, YHWH, with all my heart”, they are promising to thank God with all they are and all they do alongside the others “in the meeting of the just and their assembly.” This is deep devotion and praise for God.

This devotion is paralleled in the closing verse. After listing many reasons to worship God because God is God, the psalmist closes “Reverence for YHWH is the beginning of wisdom— and those who have it prove themselves wise.” The psalmist constructs a parallel between the praise of YHWH with all we are and all we do and holding a reverence towards God. They instruct us that this praise for God because God is love and compassion and God begins our journey to wisdom. Said another way, acknowledging in our very core that God is good, holy, and deeply worthy of our praise is proof that we are becoming wise.

It is my prayer that you might feel this reverence to God and praise God from your very core this day and all days.  And that we may all grow in wisdom as we grow in gratitude and love always.

May God bless you this week with rest, gladness, and love!

Joyfully Yours,

Kelsey Creech, Resident Seminarian