Praise the LORD, to God give praises; praise him in his holy place. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, he is excellent and great. Praise him in his mighty heavens; for his mighty deeds give praise. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, he is excellent and great.
2 Praise with harp and lyre and trumpet; praise from strings and pipes be poured. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, he is excellent and great. Praise with tambourine and dancing; with loud cymbals, praise accord. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, all with breath, O praise the LORD.
The Psalms end with a short hymn of praise to God; after all the emotions that are expressed within these ancient poems of praise it is good to end on a high note. Here we’re not focused on enemies, miry pits, victorious armies, plotting princes, or strong towers holding out against siege, but simple unadulterated praise. It makes a refreshing change!
Of course praise is not just for when we are feeling good. Praise isn’t just for when the armies withdraw, when we’re out of the pit, nor when the princes give up their plotting. The Psalms cover the range of human emotions and experience and we often feel many things at once. I write this on a glorious summer’s day looking out at rolling countryside, a loch in the distance, the singing of birds through my window, poppies in full flower in our garden. On days like this, praise is easy. Yet at the same time, I worry about friends who are ill, the direction our civic life is taking, how dishonourable politicians sulk when not getting honours they believe they are entitled to, and how the Opposition seeks to be as ruthless as the governing party. My mood might be rather more gloomy than a summer’s day in Orkney might demand – and that’s before I worry about all the other things that prey upon my mind.
Perhaps praise is only truly felt when given when we don’t feel like it. Perhaps praise, like love, is an act of our will not an expression of our mood at any one time. So today offer your praises to God despite and because of your mood. Thank God for all that is good in your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Help us, O Most High, to praise you even when we don’t feel like it.
Help us, Risen Lord Jesus, to lift our moods above the news and passing misery of this world, so that we may see how You would have us act.
Help us, Eternal Flame of Love, to change our world that our praises may reflect reality. Amen.
The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the URC’s Minister of Digital Worship and member of the Peedie Kirk URC in Orkney.