Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Jiving the psalms

I'm currently enjoying playing Stuart Townend's recent album Monument to Mercy. I like the song Kyrie, mostly because anything even verging on psalmic lament should be welcomed.
Still beneath his mother’s eyes
She’s asking why a God of love
Would give then take away

For every self-made man
Doing everything he can
To fill the void that’s deep within
Eating at his soul

Oh have mercy...
Have mercy on us all

For every wife who cries
When her husband’s lying eyes
Give the sordid game away
And something dies within

For those who walk the street
Destitute and desperate
We shake our heads and wash our hands
And hurry on our way

Oh have mercy...
Have mercy on us all

Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy
Have mercy on us all

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy
Have mercy on us all

O God forgive us for the wrong that we have done
The night is filled with weeping and we’re aching for the dawn
O God of love this world has suffered for so long
Have mercy on us all

We want to see the light we want to see the day
When hope is realised and hatred washed away
When justice rules the heart compassion leads the way
Have mercy on us all

Forgive our driven need
To make a virtue out of greed
We’ve set our hearts on worldly things
That cannot satisfy

We’ve used tomorrow’s gold today
While nature chokes long the way
How many years before we pay?
Perhaps we’re paying now...

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy
Have mercy on us all

Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2006 Thankyou Music
But why, why, oh why, is this done upbeat and major? Stuart has done a few good songs like this which are ruined by the style. I don't really want to bop along to a Kyrie. In fact, I'm quite sure that psalms of lament, of petition, and impecatory psalms were not designed to be danced to or musically celebrated. I'm not exactly a traditionalist, but perhaps the old minor Welsh hymn tunes have a good place (when not dragged flat and dirge-like anyway :)) Sample here. Still, do check out the rest of the album. 'I'm grateful' is a nice opening track, and 'My God' is a great gospel style piece.


mama said...

Why is it done upbeat and major?
Because it *isn't* a psalm.
Because no-one wants mournful music.
Because if it was minor you might have to think about the words.
Because it wouldn't sell if it wasn't a cheery piece of pseudo-pop.
Because christian pop is there for the mass market of shallow christians who miss pop music.
Because on that clip, I couldn't even make out the words... but that's what most people want.

Ok, ok, so I'm an old fuddy-duddy...!!

If you want Welsh hymn tunes, listen to Welsh hymns. The words are ok too :)

Tim & Lizzy said...

Try for actual Psalms set to music - some major, some minor. Great stuff. It's the music of choice at TSCF Resource Centres at conferences.
Btw, great to work with your colleague Jonathon here in NZ last month.
Cheers, Tim.

étrangère said...

Oh dear, I was merely glad he'd been inspired / challenged by the psalms of lament - perhaps it made more sense having heard him talk about it at Cheltenham. Clearly it isn't a psalm. And to think that no-one wants mournful music which speaks of the tension inherent in this world, you'd have to ignore much of the 'pop' (or at least easy listening, rock, etc., etc.) you malign. Often non-Christians seem to have more of a grasp of that aspect of reality in their art than Christians do (though clearly, a grasp of reality which doesn't acknowledge God... isn't a grasp of reality).

Hey, I've just realised that you used html!

Ahem. You cannot write off Christians who like pop music as shallow. That's unbelievably snobbish. You listen to classicFM in the car: how's that more shallow than listening to Radio 2? For that matter, why must Christian taste be middle class?

Tim, cheers - I like! Have ordered a CD. It was great to meet some of your lot at World Assembly!