Reflection “This is the day the Lord has made” is not the first verse of the Psalm, but for generations the Church has found it a good place to start, whether that be the day or Sunday worship or anything else we are involved in.
Isaac Watts was part of a generation of individuals who rediscovered the hymn of worship in the sense of a free composition for worship inspired by Scripture, rather than a paraphrase of it. The hymn in front of us appears to be part of a transition from metrical Psalms to a hymn. The words are recognisably based on the second half of Psalm 118, but Watts has moved well beyond paraphrase of even a careful hint that the text is fulfilled in Jesus. He has completely rewritten the Psalm in the light of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection.
St Paul wrote in the 15th chapter of the letter to the Corinthians that those very events took place “according to the Scriptures”. Watts was clearly convinced that one of those Scriptures was our Psalm for today. For me this is not to say that the Psalm writer ‘predicted’ in detail events many years in the future but rather that they had a yearning for God’s interaction in history and it is this yearning that is fulfilled in events in Jerusalem in 30AD.
Prayer God who speaks: We thank you for the Biblical writers who under the inspiration of your Spirit sought to express your love for us in words. We thank you for the Word made flesh in Jesus. We thank you for the early Christians who sought to understand the impact of Jesus in the light of the story so far. We thank you for writers of verse and prose in the history of your Church who restated the faith to make its implications clear. Amen
The Rev’d Alistair Smeaton, minister in the Cumbria Missional Partnership of the NW Synod.