1 Praise God, my soul! With all my heart Let me exalt his holy name. 2 Forget not all his benefits; His praise, my soul, in song proclaim. 3 The LORD forgives you all your sins, And heals your sickness and distress; 4 Your life he rescues from the grave, And crowns you in his tenderness.
5 He satisfies your deep desires From his unending stores of good, So that, just like the eagle’s strength, Your youthful vigour is renewed. 6 The LORD is known for righteous acts And justice to downtrodden ones. 7 To Moses he made known his ways, His mighty deeds to Israel’s sons.
8 The LORD is merciful and kind, To anger slow, and full of grace. 9 He will not constantly reprove, Or in his anger hide his face. 10 He does not punish our misdeeds, Or give our sins their just reward. 11 How great his love—as high as heaven— Towards all those who fear the LORD!
12 As far as east is from the west, So far his love has borne away Our many sins and trespasses And all the guilt that on us lay. 13 Just as a father loves his child, So God loves those who fear his name. 14 For he remembers we are dust, And well he knows our feeble frame.
15 Each human life is like the grass, And like a meadow flower it grows. 16 Its place will never be recalled Once over it the tempest blows. 17 But everlasting is God’s love For those who fear him, and their seed— 18 For those who keep his covenant, And carefully his precepts heed.
19 God’s kingly rule is over all; In heavèn he has set his throne. 20 O you his angels, praise the LORD, Strong ones by whom his will is done. 21 O praise the LORD, you heavenly hosts, His servants who perform his word. 22 Praise God, his works throughout his realm, And you, my soul, O praise the LORD!
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this to the, stunning, tune Before the Throne of God Above here.
The practice of mindfulness – bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment – is not new. Whilst increased prominence has come through popular authors and popular apps alike, its roots go back centuries.
Over the last forty years, mindfulness has played a part also in therapeutic approaches to a range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and even psychosis. Studies have indicated it can significantly reduce the kinds of rumination and worry that too often lead to poor mental health. A focus upon the present can be powerful indeed.
Today’s Psalm is in the form of a “note to self”, but the invitation is to all of us to identify with the Psalmist in a kind of holy mindfulness. Here is a litany of praise and thankfulness in which our attention is drawn above all to the “now” of God’s gracious disposition towards us. “The LORD forgives… heals… rescues…” – therefore our response of worship is likewise brought forth right now, not assigned to some arcane schedule.
Not that the Psalmist is oblivious to the place of past and future in God’s dealings with us. The LORD who is perceived today in acts of righteousness and justice (v6) is the same LORD who ministered to Moses and the Israelites in deeds of power (v7); and just as this God remembers the dust of our creation (v14), so we do well not to forget God’s presence and power (v2). Meanwhile, even if we can’t perceive precisely what lies in store, the Psalmist affirms that it is simply not in God’s nature to consign us to everlasting reproach (v9).
Above all, though, it seems that mindfulness of the present is the order of the day. Perhaps we find its echo in the summons of Jesus – who told a parable of a great banquet for which the invitation said “Come, for everything is ready NOW” (Luke 14:17). A banquet for which the host accepts no delays or deferral.
This day, Sovereign God, open my eyes to your wonder, open my ears to your voice, open my whole being to your presence.
Draw forth from me, O Lord, thankfulness for all that has been, confidence for all that is to come, but above all, wholehearted praise for this present moment.
And may my praise be joined with the worship that all creation offers. Amen.
The Rev’d Dominic Grant, Minister at Trinity URC Wimbledon
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