In Zion praise awaits you, Lord; to you our vows we’ll pay. To you all people will come near; you hear us when we pray.
When we were overwhelmed by sins, and guilt upon us lay, You pardoned all our trespasses and washed our guilt away.
How blessed are those you choose, and bring within your courts of grace! We’re filled with blessings in your house, in your most holy place.
With awesome deeds of righteousness you answer us, O God, Our Saviour, hope of farthest seas and all the earth abroad.
By strength and power you formed the hills. You hushed the oceans’ voice; You calmed the tumult of their waves and stilled the peoples’ noise.
Those who inhabit distant lands with awe regard your ways; Where morning dawns and evening fades, you call forth songs of praise.
You tend the land and water it; you make it rich and good. As you ordained, your streams are full to give the people food.
You drench the furrows of the land; you level off the ground. You soften it with showers of rain and make its crops abound.
You crown the year with fruitfulness; your harvests overflow. The grassland flourishes again; the hills with gladness glow.
The pastures green with flocks are clothed, the meadows covering. The valleys deck themselves with corn; they shout for joy and sing.
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland sing this, from the second stanza, to the tune Huddersfield here. It can also be sung to the rather better known tune Billing which you can hear here.
My encounters with Psalm 65 have mostly been at Harvest Festivals, Creation-tide services, and “eco church” services, and then most often the version at 698 in Rejoice and Sing (although more often read than sung). However, this Psalm is far deeper, broader, and richer than my experience thus far implies.
This is one of the Psalms of affirmation, celebrating that God reigns. At first glance, this Psalm might appear to be a hotch potch of different interests, but it is a Psalm celebrating various aspects of God’s activity. It celebrates that:
God answers prayer God forgives God saves God creates God powers the life cycles of earth
This Psalm is about so much more than Harvest Festivals. It can remind us to celebrate all that God is and God does. When did you last talk to someone else in your church about good things that God had done in your life, or in your church, or in your community? Is it time to do that again?
God of love, we celebrate your constant presence in our lives and in our world, your faithfulness in us has never wavered.
God of justice, we acknowledge your constant presence in the life and actions of those who have challenged the prejudice and discrimination of their world.
God of mercy, we recognise your constant presence in the ones who take great risks to bring the good news to troubled peoples and places.
God of purpose, may we find within ourselves knowledge of the tasks you call us to undertake and the conviction and courage to see them through. Amen.
The Revd Michael Hopkins is minister of The Spire Church, Farnham (a Methodist and United Reformed Church) and Elstead URC, and Clerk of the General Assembly of the URC.
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