01 May 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Easter:
1 May 2022 (Psalm 67)

‘The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us’ (Psalm 67: 6) … the earth and the landscape at Old Wolverton near Milton Keynes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Third Sunday of Easter (1 May 2022). During this season of Easter, I am reflecting each morning on the Psalms.

Later this morning, I hope to attend the Parish Eucharist in the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford. But, before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning to reflect in this Prayer Diary on my blog in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 67:

Psalm 67 is often known by its opening words in Latin, Deus misereatur. In Jewish tradition, this is one of the psalms recited at the Service for the Conclusion of the Shabbat. In the variation in numbering in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate, this is known as Psalm 66.

Psalm 67 an be divided it into three sections:

1 and 2,, verses 1-3 and 4-5: two broadly parallel sections in that seek God’s favour and blessing;

3, verses 6-7: this third section express universal joy as ‘all the nations’ experience God’s blessing.

Verses 3 and 5 are a repeated refrain:

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Psalm 67 shows how embracing and inclusive is God’s vision, God’s mission, God’s love. It is a psalm of thanksgiving whose key phrase is ‘The earth has yielded its increase’ or ‘The earth has yielded its harvest’ (verse 6).

The word ‘earth’ appears four times throughout this psalm in a variety of senses, suggesting that when we do God’s will on earth, the earth yields its blessings with the result that God is recognised by all nations of the earth.

The opening verse is reminiscent of the priestly blessing of the Cohanim: ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us’ (verse 1):

May the Lord bless and protect you.
May the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you
May the Lord turn his face toward you, and give you peace
(Numbers 6: 24-26)

This psalm is a plea for the mercy of God, for his ‘saving health’ to be seen in all nations, for his righteous judgment, and for his governance of the world. When all of that is in place, ‘Then shall the earth bring forth her increase, and God, our own God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the world shall fear him.’

God raises up his own, in the face of popular prejudice, and in spite of our prejudices, so that his saving health may be received and may be a blessing in all nations.

This psalm can be read as thanksgiving for an abundant harvest or a prayer for a good harvest. The blessing God gave to the people is extended to all nations, for he is the universal just ruler and guide and all people everywhere may hold God in awe.

When Adam was exiled from Eden, it was said, ‘Cursed be the ground because of you.’ This is reversed in this psalm, as we pray for the earth to be blessed.

In Jewish tradition, Psalm 67 is read during these evenings of ‘Counting of the Omer,’ the 49 evenings or seven complete weeks between the festivals of Pesach or Passover and Shavout or Pentecost. In the original Hebrew text, excluding the superscription, this psalm contains 49 words, corresponding to the days of Counting of the Omer.

Psalm 67 as Deus Misereatur was introduced into the Book of Common Prayer by Thomas Cranmer as a Canticle for Evening Prayer, as an alternative to the main canticles.

This one of only four canticles that are provided in the traditional language in the Book of Common Prayer (2004) of the Church of Ireland [see p 134] – the others are Urbs Fortitudinis, Cantate Domino, and A Song of the Light, although modern language versions may be found either in the Psalms in the Book of Common Prayer or in the Irish Church Hymnal.

Thomas Tallis, Samuel Adler and Charles Ives composed musical settings of Psalm 67. The Revd Henry Francis Lyte, the author of ‘Abdie with me’ and a former curate of Taghmon, Co Wexford, wrote an English hymn paraphrase of this psalm, ‘God of mercy, God of grace,’ generally sung to the tune ‘Heathlands’ by Henry Smart.

‘Let the nations be glad and sing for joy’ (Psalm 67: 4) … flags of the nations at a shop in Kalambaka near the monasteries of Meteora in central Greece (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 67 (NRSVA):

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
2 that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
7 May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Truth Telllers,’ and is introduced this morning by Steve Cox, Chair of Christians in the Media. He writes:

Edmund Burke, the 18th Century Anglo-Irish statesman, was reported to have said; ‘There are Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.’

This respect for the media has been severely shaken in recent years. Yet, at its very best, the media continues to hold those in power to account, to call out injustice where it is seen, and unseen, and to be a voice to the voiceless.

It is crucial we support a free and independent press, while maintaining strong regulatory oversight. In a world of powerful, and quickly emerging, media platforms, Christians in Media will always be objective, and question where necessary, but not be afraid to highlight a media that brings us facts, information and truth.

As Christians, we pray for those in the media to uncover the beauty of hope, love and renewal that blossom in the debris of conflict, greed and exploitation. We pray that everyone in the media turn their weapons of word and image into ploughshares of peace and reconciliation.

We pray World Press Freedom Day continues to support the ‘Truth Tellers’ and uphold freedom of expression and information as a public good.

The USPG Prayer Diary this morning (1 May 2022) invites us to pray:

Amazing God,
you reach the stubborn and the cynical.
Teach us to be empathetic and understanding
as we seek to spread the Word.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

‘There are Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important far than they all’ … Edmund Burke’s statue outside Trinity College Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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