Merle Molofsky

Poet and psychoanalyst: read and resonate

Interactive Musings

MAKE A JOYOUS NOISE: POETRY AND MUSIC, NATURAL THERAPY FOR THE TROUBLED SOUL

Posted on April 7, 2012 at 11:20 PM

MAKE A JOYOUS NOISE: POETRY AND MUSIC, NATURAL THERAPY FOR THE TROUBLED SOUL

04/07/2012

 

David, the psalmist, as a youth, soothed the anger of King Saul by playing the harp. 

 

“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and well, and the evil spirit departed from him” – Samuel I, 16:23.

 

“An evil spirit from God” – what could this mean?  A troubled conscience?  Post-traumatic stress disorder?  Conflict? Guilt?  Remorse?  Projection?  Why would God harrow the soul of Saul?  To awaken his goodness?

 

David was very much like Saul.  They both in their youth came from simple agrarian families, and were chosen to become warriors.  They both wrestled with their own human nature.  The young David, attuning his emotional harp strings to the troubled music in Saul’s heart, played his harp in direct empathy with Saul.  David was a music therapist for the traumatized king.

 

When David became king, in part he tried to soothe his own trauma through his poetry and music, and his psalms are his offerings to us as well as offerings to God.

 

Excerpts from the Psalms (King James version):

 

“Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.”  Psalm 81:1

 

“Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel; the pleasant harp with the psaltery.”  Psalm 81: 2

 

“O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyous noise to the rock of our salvation.”  Psalm 95: 1

 

“O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 96.1

 

“O sing unto the Lord a new song.”  Psalm 98: 1

 

“Make a joyous noise unto the Lord, all the earth.”  Psalm 98: 4

 

“Make a joyous noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”  Psalm 100.

 

“I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O Lord, I will sing.” Psalm 101: 1

 

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” is a poem written in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson, president of the Stanton School, in honor of a visit to the school by Booker T. Washington, with music written in 1905 by his brother John Johnson.

 

“Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring,

 

Ring with the harmonies of liberty.

 

Let our rejoicing rise, high as the list’ning skies,

 

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.”

 

“How Can I Keep From Singing” is an 1869 hymn from North Carolina written by Baptist minister Robert Wadsworth Lowry.

 

“My life flows on in endless song;

 

         Above earth’s lamentation,

 

I hear the sweet, but far-off hymn;

 

         That hails a new creation;

 

Thro’ all the tumult and the strife

 

         I hear the music ringing;

 

It finds an echo in my soul –

 

         How can I keep from singing?”

 

Poetry is word-music.

 

As the instruments play the song, so too the lives we lead are the song we offer to the Lord.

 

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