Joyfully sing to the LORD, all you righteous; for it is good that the upright give praise. With harp and lyre praise the LORD and make music; with shouts of joy, a new song to him raise.
Righteous and true is the word God has spoken; all the LORD’s actions his faithfulness prove. He loves true righteousness, judgment and justice; all earth is full of his unfailing love.
By the LORD’s word were the heavens created, their starry host by the breath from his lips. All the sea’s waters he gathers together and in his storehouses lays up the deeps.
Let all the world fear the LORD in his greatness; rev’rence his name, all you peoples of earth! For when he spoke, all things came into being; when he commanded, then all things stood forth.
Foiled by the LORD are the plans of the nations; thwarted by him are the peoples’ designs. But the LORD’s purposes stand firm for ever; his plans endure through all ages and times.
Favoured and blessed is the nation he’s chosen, whose God the LORD is throughout every age; Blessed are the people he called to be near him, those whom he chose as his own heritage.
From heaven’s height the LORD looks down and watches; he sees mankind from his own dwelling-place. He who has moulded the hearts of all people knows every deed of the whole human race.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior lives by the strength of his hand. Vain is man’s trust in a horse for deliverance, nor by its strength can it victory command.
But the LORD’s eyes are on those who revere him, those who rely on his unfailing love; So that from famine and death he may save them, giving them life by his power from above.
We wait in hope for the LORD, our defender; trusting his holy name, our hearts are blessed. LORD, may your unfailing love rest upon us, just as in you our sure hope has been placed.
This can be sung to the tune Springfield which you can hear here
Working for Christian Aid, 25 years ago, took me to Sri Lanka to visit partner organisations, of all faiths, who were undertaking community development projects with peasants, fisher folk, trades unions, and tea pickers. One ran an organic farm in the centre of the country, advising families who had been given small plots of impoverished land through limited nationalisation of tea plantations in the 1970s. The lead activist rested rarely, constantly seeking ways forward which would bring about justice for the communities scraping a living from the land. One afternoon he suggested that we walk up the hill to a meditation centre, and as we went, we discussed the latest news of civil unrest in various regions of the country. For 30 minutes we said nothing – the longest I remember this companion sitting in peace and quiet, both wordless in the face of the sheer beauty of our surroundings.
This came to mind as I read Psalm 33, with its wonderment at creation, wisdom about nationhood, and reassurance in times of anxiety. I find it hard to agree that belief in God saves people from famine and death, or that the power of God comes from above. Too often the idea of an all-knowing divine being lets humanity off the hook when it comes to taking responsibility for our actions. And yet, like the leaders of the community organisations I used to visit I believe that all the earth is full of the unfailing love of God, who is recognised in true righteousness, judgement and justice.
Unbounded God who speaks the cosmos into existence whose name is upright, faithful, steadfast enlist us in your justice-ing. Be the hope that is within us, and the calm at the heart of the world’s turbulence that we may have the courage to join in your new song rising from the world you are creating now.
The Rev’d Fiona Thomas is the Secretary of the Education and Learning Committee of the URC.
Sing Psalms, Psalmody and Praise Committee Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS