Thankfulness turns into song. Just as Christopher Idle has caught the power and the passion into this sung version, so the original Psalmist caught the power and passion into words to be sung and cherished across Israel’s generations and into holy scripture. The opening rehearses a great moment of salvation when waters were held back and crossing could be safely made. Clearly, we are looking back to the escape from Egypt or the arrival at the promised land as the Jordan is crossed. Then the Psalm continues into thanksgiving for trials survived and attacks overcome.
Our version builds upon the Psalm’s opening verses. We remember salvation from danger, from enemies and from the raging power of creation itself. We remember being put to the test. God is revealed as agent of our escape and source of our safety. God it is who acts to bring us to the time and place in which we can sing of salvation because salvation has become real to us. The final verse makes things personal. It is not just our salvation, but mine. Mine have been the prayers longing for answers. Mine have been the faltering hopes. Mine has been despair. But no longer!
I find it staggering to be writing this, having read this, thinking of you reading this, as we travel onwards in the company of Covid-19. Could there be a more poignant and powerful biblical word into our pandemic-ravaged world? The peaks of fear and loss, the nightmare of it all, may be passing for many across the world, but certainly not for everyone. We have been hurt and humbled. And, in these ancient words sung afresh, salvation is still named. God is honoured and worshipped as the one who saves us. No enemy, no force, no power, can defeat the God who works to bring us safely through. Amidst all we will have lost, there is another song worth singing.
We are saved! Thank you, Lord. You have heard our deepest cries. You have shared our greatest sorrows. You have known our sharpest fears. Even when we could not see or understand, You were at work. Even as we fell, exhausted, Your hands held us. Let praise be our theme today. Amen.
The Rev’d Neil Thorogood, Minister, Thornbury URC and Trinity-Henleaze URC (Bristol)