Saturday, February 21, 2015

40 Days of Chant, Psalm 4 at a Coffee Shop

So I wrote this chant at one of the coffee shops I frequent here in Omaha.  I am enjoying this discipline because of what I am learning.  I don't think I could have written this one four days ago, but the more I do these I can feel my "ear" getting better.  I am just beginning to hear them before I write.

I have been reading the book Mindset by Carol Dweck where she argues that we shouldn't think about innate talent.  On the other hand we should thing about challenging ourselves to get better every day.  She argues for learning by failure instead of just doing what we know we can do over and over again.  Reading this book was an influence in me taking up this discipline this Lent.  It is something Brad Goode tried to teach me 15 years ago in Jazz Improv I at CCM.  I think I am starting to hear him now.  Each day I am trying to do something different with these chants and to learn another way to express these deep and rich Psalms with very few chords.

Anyway, enough about my process.  Here's the chant for Psalm 4.  It is common in the Psalms and in Hebrew poetry in general for there to be a shift in tone close to the end.  Psalm 13 is another example where the psalmist questions God for a host of verses and then says in effect, "Nonetheless I will praise you for all time".  Psalm 4 is like that; so, even though it is a short psalm, I split this chant.  The last two verses shift in voice and I felt it necessary to end differently than the first 6 verses.

Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause; *
    you set me free when I am hard-pressed;

    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

"You mortals, how long will you dishonor my glory; *
    how long will you worship dumb idols

    and run after false gods?"

Know that the LORD does wonders for the faithful; *
    when I call upon the LORD, he will hear me.

Tremble, then, and do not sin; *
    speak to your heart in silence upon your bed.

Offer the appointed sacrifices *
    and put your trust in the LORD.

Many are saying,
   "Oh, that we might see better times!" *

    Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O  LORD.

You have put gladness in my heart, *
    more than when grain and wine and oil increase.

I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep; *
    for only you, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

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