Out of the deep

Psa 130:1-8

[[A Song of degrees.]] Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But [there is] forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul [waiteth] for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: [I say, more than] they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD [there is] mercy, and with him [is] plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

          John Rutter’s setting of Psalm 130 began again to resonate with me the latter part of this week, the melody and lyrics reverberating throughout my spirit and soul. As the melody continues to linger I find myself considering two different but complementary perspectives regarding these lyrics.

My first point of view is from the position of being the one in the depths crying out to the Creator. There are many reasons one finds oneself in a pit, and perhaps you will have found yourself in a pit for the same reason I find myself there quite often these past few years.

Although I do not agree theologically with offering up a requiem I am familiar with a few of them having been a classical musician for many years. This particular Requiem by John Rutter strays beyond the requiem liturgy to include two Psalms. Rutter, having lost his father wrote this music as an offer of comfort to those suffering bereavement, a condition not unfamiliar to me. While the other movements have faded, these two do not. Mostly I assume because they are pure Word and not corrupt Latin hermeneutica from the Missa pro defunctis.

I have known his settings of these two Psalms for over half my life now, and through the passing of time they have become even more permanent and prevalent in my mental playlist. I suppose we all have certain songs or musical works that stay with us forever, and for better or worse these two movements are just a couple of the many, many works that just remain…

Part of its the impact, I think, is the way the melody begins with the cello “chanting” the  first four on the lowest note the instrument is capable of creating, and then almost immediately turns a soulful blue. Both chant with its dirge like suggestions and blues with its weeping accidentals mirror in sound the feeling of my personal lament emanating from the depths of my soul and winding its way up to my spirit. I close my eyes. As each note vibrates on the air leaving my mouth I hear the words I have just sung come back to my ears and encourage my soul, “Yes, this is the answer. Cry out to Him.”

One of the cruelest experiences that have confronted me is actually not the mourning of the dead, as awful as that trauma is, but the mourning of the living. The knowledge that the deceased chose to be with their Creator is a decision I can understand, as difficult as it is to survive. But the decision to choose this world and its wicked ways is a decision that is impossible to fathom and excruciating to endure.

No more than Joseph could understand the lengths at which his brothers’ betrayal was carried out, can I understand the betrayal of my own brother, not to mention the rest of the many members of my estranged “family”.  Joseph’s brothers regarded not his future, nor his present estate. They blatantly chose to close their eyes to the ramifications of their wicked selfish decisions. If only I were unable to so precisely identify with this set of circumstances…

My brother…my prodigal brother…prodigal…asotos…without salvation…

 

Out of the deep have I cried unto thee, O LORD, Lord hear my voice…

…there is forgiveness with thee…

…I wait for the LORD, and in His Word do I hope…

…for with the LORD there is mercy and plenteous redemption…

 

This is both my lament and my hope. Open my brother’s eyes to the horror that is his life. Let him cry out from the depths for the attention of Your ear. And as his heart is devastated by his deliberate rebellion and unashamed perfidy allow Your mercy to be the annihilator of the final vestiges of demonic bondage. Let Your redemption and Your forgiveness be the destroyer of all that he is presently, and return to us not simply the son of my father, but the son of my Father, not just my brother, but the brother of my Brother.

My second perspective – the view of my brother crying out from the deep can only be contemplated from a place of extreme faith, hope beyond hope. Only through the miraculous power of God can I dare to even imagine such a scenario as my brother crying out from the deep… and yet I dare.

I dare because of the tremendous, outrageous, and awesome mercy described in this Psalm. A Supreme Eternal Being whom the composer of this Psalm counsels the very ones who are disloyal to Him to put their trust in to forgive them and redeem them from ALL their iniquities, THIS is the character of the God described in this passage, this is our God, this is my God, the God of the nation of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who forgives liars and cheaters and doubters and doublecrossers, and turns them into paragons of faith, chooses them to be the inheritors of His most excellent promises, this is the One of Whom I say, “my soul doth wait, and in His Word do I hope more than they that watch for the morning, I say MORE than they that watch for the morning, because here the rebel, the traitorous Israel can repent and find plenteous redemption from all their iniquities. So may this exquisite mercy not be withheld from my own heartless kin. With importunity I lament,

Out of the deep have I cried unto the Thee, O LORD, Lord hear my voice.

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