The Battle


A Call to Arms for All God's People.

Why a book of battle songs for a people of peace?
David the Epic Warrior-King
It may seem a bit odd to some that one of the most famous warrior-kings ever to live was responsible for the majority of the Jewish/Christian Song book.  King David may not have conquered the whole known world of his time as did Alexander the Great, but his story is nonetheless immortalized by its centrality to the prophetic conscience of the most popular book of all time.

What made it even more enduring was the fact that the songs of David and his co-writers contain spiritual overtones that transcend any understanding of the subject matter as merely physical.  Even the authors must have understood at times that the true battle ground is the human heart.

"Me Against Me" and "Fight for Your Mind"
A Visceral Modern Psalm
Contemporary movies and songs abound with this theme of inner battle.  Fight Club comes to mind for one of the most powerful films on the subject (not for the faint of heart).  A song that should have been on the Fight Club soundtrack is Me Against Me, penned and recorded by one of my favorite hardcore bands, Project 86.  Notice the refrain:

"Grabbed hold my enemy's neck
And choked 'till he ceased
Blisters with disbelief (I awoke dead)
And when I awoke I couldn't believe it was me
All the time it was me"

This song and movie along with countless other works of art echo many of David's recurring themes... "Thou hast struck all them who are my adversaries without cause:  thou hast broken the teeth of sinners" (Ps. 3:8),  "May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow" (Ps. 108:9).  The "enemy" need not be external at all.  In Ben Harper's words, the reality of a fight for our minds is persistent throughout Psalms when they are properly understood.  And that understanding is quite clearly one with a battle line down the center of the human heart.

One of the most famous quotes regarding this comes from St. Macarius, an early Christian hermit, who wrote:
"The heart is but a small vessel and yet dragons and lions are there, and there poisonous creatures and all the treasures of wickedness; rough uneven places are there, and gaping chasms. There likewise is God, there are the angels, there life and the Kingdom, the light and the apostles... all things are there."
Another well known quote is by Alexander Solzhenitsyn  from “The Gulag Archipelago”:
“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
The Battle Rages Within
As Christians we come to understand that at one level we have died with Christ on the cross and therefore the new creatures that we have become are dead to the destructive things that once lured to us.

HOWEVER...

That does not mean that the old traces and patterns (habits) in our minds are automatically erased.  Yes we become a new creation in Christ, but he does not instantly renew our minds.  That is part of working out our salvation with fear and trembling.  As St. Paul points out, the renewing of our minds is a process and it is not for sissies! (See the 'To Arms!' post for more on that from Fr. Patrick Reardon.) In fact it is an all out war at times if those sinful patterns have become entrenched.  Today we call the entrenched patterns addictions or obsessive behaviors while in the old days they called them passions.  It really doesn't matter what they're called, they are particularly difficult to uproot.

Perhaps nothing depicts this battle within more clearly than The Book of Psalms.  This might explain why both Jewish Rabbis (don't forget Jesus was a Rabbi) and Christian monastics commit the whole Psalter to memory and typically chant through the whole thing at least weekly. For "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds." (2 Corinthians 10:4)

The Psalter was loved deeply by the Jews and immediately adopted by the early Jewish and gentile church as her song book.  It captures our hearts and imaginations and urges us on to fight, for we are at war, whether we like the imagery or not.  The dark patterns that we etched in our lives keep rearing their ugly zombie heads and they need to be killed over and over.  The Psalter has been the chosen weapon for this fight since earliest times.  It inspires and invigorates us while encouraging us to give God the praise for any victories, for the battle belongs to the Lord.

The poetic pairs you see below are an attempt to show how themes from that most famous book have been fleshed out recently in various music recordings. The artists may not be familiar or sing in a way that is your particular cup of tea, but that isn't the point.

The point is that the Psalter has deeply impacted our lives and is part of humanity's collective subconscious whether we realize it or not. It has not been stamped out by secularism or any other force, nor could it ever be for it is in fact the very cry of the human heart for its Creator-God.

These longings can be twisted, perverted, besmirched and covered in filth, but the truth remains that it is imprinted in that part of our hearts which is indestructible: that mysterious light we refer to as the image of God within each of us. This part of us was created to exist for all eternity and there is absolutely no escaping its longings. Speaking of longings, that brings us to the first pairing...

[Note: The Psalms in print below are from the Douay-Rheims version and numbered based on the Greek and Latin Psalters.  I have put in parenthesis the Psalm numbers we are used to seeing in the NIV or KJV.  The audio links to the Psalms are the equally poetic King James Version.]

Hole Hearted
(Extreme / Pornograffitti / 1990 - Amazon link)

The concept of the "God Shaped Hole" in all of our hearts is classic. Consider St. Augustine's quote "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee" from the Fifth century A.D.

Extreme's song Hole Hearted stayed on the top 40 charts in the ealy 90's for quite some time. Perhaps it is because most thought the song was about longing for a particular girl/guy, but I think if you look at the actual lyrics you'll see something much deeper is going on here. It is the cry of Psalm 41 which has been on the Jewish / Christian top 150 chart for over 2000 years.
Hole Hearted (click to listen)

Life's ambition occupies my time
Priorities confuse the mind
Happiness one step behind
This inner peace I've yet to find

Rivers flow into the sea
Yet even the sea is not so full of me
If I'm not blind why can't I see
That a circle can't fit
Where a square should be

There's a hole in my heart
That can only be filled by you
And this hole in my heart
Can't be filled with the things I do

Hole hearted
Hole hearted

This heart of stone is where I hide
These feet of clay kept warm inside
Day by day less satisfied
Not fade away before I die

Rivers flow into the sea
Yet even the sea is not so full of me
If I'm not blind why can't I see
That a circle can't fit
Where a square should be

There's a hole in my heart
That can only be filled by you
And this hole in my heart
Can't be filled with the things I do
There's a hole in my heart
That can only be filled by you
Should've known from the start
I'd fall short with the things I do

Hole hearted
Hole hearted
Hole hearted
Hole hearted





Psalm 41 (42) (click to listen)

As the hart panteth.
[Quemadmodum desiderat.]
1  Unto the end, understanding for the sons of Core.

    2  As the hart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after thee, O God.

    3  My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?

    4  My tears have been my bread day and night, whilst it is said to me daily : Where is thy God?

    5  These things I remembered, and poured out my soul in me : for I shall go over into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God : With the voice of joy and praise; the noise of one feasting.

    6  Why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou trouble me? Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him : the salvation of my countenance,

    7  and my God. My soul is troubled within myself : therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan and Hermoniim, from the little hill.

    8  Deep calleth on deep, at the noise of thy flood-gates. All thy heights and thy billows have passed over me.

    9  In the daytime the Lord hath commanded his mercy; and a canticle to him in the night. With me is prayer to the God of my life.

    10  I will say to God : Thou art my support. Why hast thou forgotten me? and why go I mourning, whilst my enemy afflicteth me?

    11  Whilst my bones are broken, my enemies who trouble me have reproached me; Whilst they say to me day be day : Where is thy God?

    12  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me? Hope thou in God, for I will still give praise to him : the salvation of my countenance, and my God.
Alive and Awake
(Mortal / Fathom / 1990s - Amazon link)

It's like being born twice some say. The experience of finding new life in Christ is expounded in poetry and all kinds of art down through the ages. It's definitely worth shouting about and thanking God for, just as Psalm 123 and so many other Psalms do so well.
Alive and Awake (click to listen)

[I'm alive, huh? <yelling> Ahhhh... I'm Alive!!!!]
So it begins
The sleeper has awakened!
We walk the walls in this freak of flesh
Along the twists of our visceral mesh
Against the power flow of motionless flood
It's an experience of flesh and blood
[The sleeper must awake
The sleeper must awake]

I face the wave of this gravity
I face the Beauty in the things i can't see
I face the Weakness that has rendered me strong
I face the fate of my existence head on
Ready to Bleed
Ready to Feel
Ready to Love
Without fear
I, I'm alive, am Alive, I'm alive and Awake, I'm Awake, Alive and awake

I pray for wisdom in the days of my Youth
I pray for courage in the presence of Truth
I pray for Grace at each approach of the sun
I pray for peace and for the Kingdom to come

I walk the world in this vessel of flesh
Inside the twists of this visceral mesh
Caught in the power flow of motionless flood
It's an experience of the flesh and the blood

For all that lives and dies
Entails a sacrifice of love
Though the earth, the surf, the skies
Are gilded with good-byes
Be sure - God is in Control

And when the dead leaves fall
For time will fail us all
Never fail to remember
The One in whom we move and breathe
And have our being
Is the God who's in Control !

How do we die ?
How do we sleep ?
When we're ready to be human
without fear
Psalm 123 (124) (click to listen)

If it had not been that the Lord.
[Nisi quia Dominus.]
A gradual canticle.

1 If it had not been that the Lord was with us, let Israel now say:

2 If it had not been that the Lord was with us, When men rose up against us

3 perhaps they had swallowed us up alive. When their fury was enkindled against us,

4 perhaps the waters had swallowed us up.

5 Our soul hath passed through a torrent: perhaps our soul had passed through a water insupportable.

6 Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us to be a prey to their teeth.

7 Our soul hath been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the fowlers. The snare is broken, and we are delivered.

8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Me Against Me
(Project 86 / Drawing Black Lines / 2000 - Amazon link)

This is perhaps the most intense song I've heard that fleshes out themes found in Psalm 3. When we understand that our enemy is within, the result looks insane from those looking on us from the outside. The movie Fight Club showed us just how insane.
Me Against Me (click to listen)

I will not forget the day when the sides were chosen
Me against me against me
Clothing so drenched with sweat
And the teeth they were clenched
Who can I trust when I...

Grabbed hold my enemy's neck
And choked 'till he ceased
Blisters with disbelief (I awoke dead)
And when I awoke I couldn't believe it was me
All the time it was me

So many times we smile in pride
Putting such faith in what we've accomplished
But, minutes ago we were (minutes ago we were)
Slitting our wrists, running for sympathy
Psalm 3 (click to listen)

Why, O Lord, are they multiplied?
[Domine, quid multiplicate.]
1  The psalm of David when he fled from the face of his son Absalom.  [2 Kings 15.]

    2  Why, O Lord, are they multiplied that afflict me? many are they who rise up against me.

    3  Many say to my soul: There is no salvation for him in his God.

    4  But thou, O Lord art my protector, my glory, and the lifter up of my head.

    5  I have cried to the Lord with my voice: and he hath heard me from his holy hill.

    6  I have slept and taken my rest: and I have risen up, because the Lord hath protected me.

    7  I will not fear thousands of the people, surrounding me: arise, O Lord; save me, O my God.

    8  For thou hast struck all them who are my adversaries without cause: thou hast broken the teeth of sinners.

    9  Salvation is of the Lord: and thy blessing is upon thy people.
Satisfied Mind
(Ben Harper and the Blind Boys from Alabama / There Will Be A Light / 2004 - Amazon link)

Only God satisfies. Psalm 4 among others testify to this along with Ben and his Alabama Boys.
Satisfied Mind (click to listen)

How many times have you heard someone say
"If I had his money I'd do things my way"
But little they know that it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind

Once I was waiting in fortune and fame
Everything that I dreamed of to get a start in life's game
Suddenly it happened I lost every dime
But I'm richer by far with a satisfied mind

When my life is over and my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones I'll leave there's no doubt
But one thing is for certain when it comes my time
I'll leave here for certain with a satisfied mind

I got a satisfied mind


Psalm 4 (click to listen)

When I called upon him.
[Cum invocarem.]
1  Unto the end, in verses. A psalm for David.

    2  When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me.  Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.

    3  O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?

    4  Know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful: the Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him.

    5  Be ye angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.

    6  Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who sheweth us good things?

    7  The light of thy countenance O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness in my heart.

    8  By the fruit of their corn, their wine and oil, they are multiplied.

    9  In peace in the selfsame I will sleep, and I will rest:

    10  for thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.
Psalm 51
(Charlie Peacock / West Coast Diaries Vol. II / 1991 - Amazon link)

Charlie pretty much does a word for word rendition of this most popular song of repentance. The song title follows the Hebrew numbering of the Psalter, the chant on the right follows the Greek, no worries.
Psalm 51 (click to listen)

Have mercy on me, oh God,
according to your unfailing love,
according to your great compassion,
Blot out my transgression,
and wash away all my iniquities,
And cleanse me from my sin,
for I know my transgression
and my sin is always before me,
Against you, you only, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
So that you, you are proved right
when you speak, and justified when you judge,
When you speak, and justified when you judge.

Have mercy on me, oh God,
according to your unfailing love,
according to your great compassion,
Blot out my transgression,
and wash away all my iniquities,
And cleanse me from my sin,
for I know my transgression
and my sin is always before me,
Against you, you only, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
So that you, you are proved right
when you speak, and justified when you judge,
When you speak, and justified when you judge.
Oh, when you speak, and justified when you judge,
Yes, when you speak, and justified when you judge,
Oh, when you speak, and justified when you judge,
(Lord, have mercy)
When you speak, and justified when you judge,
(oh yeah)
When you speak, and justified when you judge,
When you speak, and justified when you judge,
When you speak, and justified when you judge,
When you speak, and justified when you judge.


Psalm 50 (51)  (click to listen)

Have mercy on me.
[Miserere.]
1  Unto the end, a psalm of David,  2 when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bethsabee. [2 Kings 12.]

    3  Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy. And according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity.

    4  Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

    5  For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me.

    6  To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee: that thou mayst be justified in thy words and mayst overcome when thou art judged.

    7  For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.

    8  For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.

    9  Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

    10  To my hearing thou shalt give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.

    11  Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

    12  Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels.

    13  Cast me not away from thy face; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

    14  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.

    15  I will teach the unjust thy ways: and the wicked shall be converted to thee.

    16  Deliver me from blood, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol thy justice.

    17  O Lord, thou wilt open my lips: and my mouth shall declare thy praise.

    18  For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted.

    19  A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

    20  Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.

    21  Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon thy altar.g!)
Calling All Angels
(Jane Siberry and K.D. Lang / Until the End of the World Soundtrack / 1991 - Amazon Link)

A more poignant cry to God and his Holy Angels for help can hardly be imagined. Beautiful rendering of Psalm 129 or others like it.
Calling All Angels (click to listen)

Santa Maria, Santa Teresa, Santa Anna, Santa Susannah
Santa Cecilia, Santa Copelia, Santa Domenica, Mary Angelica
Frater Achad, Frater Pietro, Julianus, Petronilla
Santa, Santos, Miroslaw, Vladimir
and all the rest

a man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries
and high above the church bells start to ring
and as the heaviness the body oh the heaviness settles in
somewhere you can hear a mother sing

then it's one foot then the other as you step out onto the road
how much weight? how much weight?
then it's how long? and how far?
and how many times before it's too late?

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this one
don't leave me alone
calling all angels
calling all angels
we're cryin' and we're hurtin'
and we're not sure why...

and every day you gaze upon the sunset
with such love and intensity
it's almost...it's almost as if
if you could only crack the code
then you'd finally understand what this all means

but if you could...do you think you would
trade in all the pain and suffering?
ah, but then you'd miss
the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this one
don't leave me alone
callin' all angels
callin' all angels
we're tryin'
we're hopin'
we're hurtin'
we're lovin'
we're cryin'
we're callin'
'cause we're not sure how this goes
Psalm 129 (130) (click to listen)

Out of the depths.
[De profundis.]
A gradual canticle.

    1  Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord:

    2  Lord, hear my voice. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.

    3  If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it.

    4  For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord. My soul hath relied on his word:

    5  my soul hath hoped in the Lord.

    6  From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.

    7  Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption.

    8  And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Take My Hand
(Ben Harper and the Blind Boys from Alabama / There Will Be A Light / 2004 - Amazon link)

Asking the Lord for guidance is such a recurring theme in scripture, especially the Psalms. Psalm 1 is stating how blessed is that person that walks, stands and sits in the presence of God and Ben Harper's remake of this classic is in the same vein.
Take My Hand (click to listen)

Lord I work to serve you
And I hope I've served you well
Oh - I've lived a life to join you
And now only time will tell

Oh - Take my hand when you are worried
Take my hand when you're alone
Take my hand and let me guide you
Take my hand to lead you home

Father dear father
Pulled his car to the side of the road
Looked at his children with tears in his eyes
Said life is too heavy a load

Take my hand when you are worried
Take my hand when you're alone
Take my hand and let me guide you
Take my hand to lead you home

Some days I'm struck with sorrow
Need a place to hide
There's nowhere else you can put life
But way down deep inside

Take my hand and let me guide you
Take my hand when you're alone
Take my hand and let me guide you
Take my hand to lead you home

Take my hand when you are worried
Take my hand to lead you home
Take my hand and let me guide you
Take my hand to lead you home

Take my hand...
Psalm 1 (click to listen)

Blessed is the man.
[Beatus vir.]

    1  Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence.

    2  But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night.

    3  And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit, in due season. And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper.

    4  Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust, which the wind driveth from the face of the earth.

    5  Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment: nor sinners in the council of the just.

    6  For the Lord knoweth the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish.
Kyrie
(Mr. Mister / Welcome to the Real World / 1985 - Amazon Link)

Hardly did an hour go by in the late 80s that you didn't hear this on secular radio stations. It must have struck a chord somewhere deep to become so popular. Again we have that universal cry of our hearts for God's mercy and presence in our lives (Kyrie eleison is Greek for "Lord have mercy" and is a common refrain in many Churches internationally.) It is a great rendering of Psalm 120 and similar Psalms.
Kyrie (click to listen)

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old it holds my memories
My baby burns agem like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

*CHORUS*
Kyrie Eleison
Down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Eleison
Through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Eleison
Where I'm going will you follow
Kyrie Eleison
On a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be

Oh...Oh...Oh
Oh...Oh...Oh
Oh...Oh...Oh
Oh...Oh...Oh

(repeat to end)

Psalm 120 (121) (click to listen)

I have lifted up my eyes.
[Levavi oculos.]
A gradual canticle.

    1  I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me.

    2  My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

    3  May he not suffer thy foot to be moved: neither let him slumber that keepeth thee.

    4  Behold he shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keepeth Israel.

    5  The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord is thy protection upon thy right hand.

    6  The sun shall not burn thee by day: nor the moon by night.

    7  The Lord keepeth thee from all evil: may the Lord keep thy soul.

    8  May the Lord keep thy going in and thy going out; from henceforth now and for ever.
Fight For Your Mind
(Ben Harper / Fight for Your Mind / 1995 - Amazon link)

OK, last Ben Harper song... this was the original title of this entire project, but alas the completely silly "Heart Wars" theme won out. I am a geek and I'm proud. Anyway, this song has a little bit of that "I've got a right to smoke dope" motif going on, but the phrase "fight for your mind" just trumps any scruples.

For it is indeed a fight for our mind and heart and soul and there is no doubt that there is an enemy who would dominate us to get his way and destroy us utterly if possible. The Psalms are chock full of this theme and it was hard to pick just one, but Psalm 11 won the day.
Fight For Your Mind (click to listen)

If you're gonna live
then live it up
and if you're gonna give
then give it up
if you're gonna walk the earth
then walk it proud
and if you're gonna say the word
you got to say it loud

you got to fight for your mind
you got to fight for your mind
while you got the time
you got to fight for your mind

if you're gonna build a house
make it a home
if you're gonna pull some weight
pull your own
if you're gonna help
reach out your hand
if you're getting up
then take a stand

you got to fight for your mind
you got to fight for your mind
while you got the time
you got to fight for your mind

if you're gonna step
step on in
if you're gonna finish
you got to begin
don't you fear
what you don't know
just let that be
your room to grow

you got to fight for your mind
you got to fight for your mind
while you got the time
you got to fight for your mind
Psalm 11 (12) (click to listen)

Save me, O Lord.
[Salvum me fac.]
1  Unto the end; for the octave, a psalm for David.

    2  Save me, O Lord, for there is now no saint: truths are decayed from among the children of men.

    3  They have spoken vain things every one to his neighbour: with deceitful lips, and with a double heart have they spoken.

    4  May the Lord destroy all deceitful lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things.

    5  Who have said: We will magnify our tongue; our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?

    6  By reason of the misery of the needy, and the groans of the poor, now will I arise, saith the Lord. I will set him in safety; I will deal confidently in his regard.

    7  The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried by the fire, purged from the earth refined seven times.

    8  Thou, O Lord, wilt preserve us.: and keep us from this generation for ever.

    9  The wicked walk round about: according to thy highness, thou hast multiplied the children of men.
The Battle Belongs to the Lord
(Petra / Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out / 2004 - Amazon link)

I grew up listening to Petra a lot. It was something my youth leaders played back in the late 70's and early 80's. This particular song became very popular and is still sung in some churches today. It is a very good rendering of Psalms such as the 143rd.
The Battle Belongs to the Lord (click to listen)

In heavenly armour we'll enter the land
The battle belongs to the Lord
No weapon that's fashioned against us shall stand
The battle belongs to the Lord

We sing glory and honor
Power and strength to the Lord
(repeat)

The power of darkness comes in like a flood
The battle belongs to the Lord
He's raised up a standard, the power of His blood
The battle belongs to the Lord

When your enemy presses in hard do not fear
The battle belongs to the Lord
Take courage my friend, your redemption is near
The battle belongs to the Lord






Psalm 143 (144)  (click to listen)


Blessed be the Lord.
[Benedictus Dominus.]
A psalm of David against Goliath.

    1  Blessed be the Lord my God, who teacheth my hands to fight, and my fingers to war.

    2  My mercy, and my refuge: my support, and my deliverer: My protector, and I have hoped in him: who subdueth my people under me.

    3  Lord, what is man, that thou art made known to him? or the son of man, that thou makest account of him?

    4  Man is like to vanity: his days pass away like a shadow.

    5  Lord, bow down thy heavens and descend: touch the mountains and they shall smoke.

    6  Send forth lightning, and thou shalt scatter them: shoot out thy arrows, and thou shalt trouble them.

    7  Put forth thy hand from on high, take me out, and deliver me from many waters: from the hand of strange children:

    8  Whose mouth hath spoken vanity: and their right hand is the right hand of iniquity.

    9  To thee, O God, I will sing a new canticle: on the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings I will sing praises to thee.

    10  Who givest salvation to kings: who hast redeemed thy servant David from the malicious sword:

    11  Deliver me, And rescue me out of the hand of strange children; whose mouth hath spoken vanity: and their right hand is the right hand of iniquity:

    12  Whose sons are as new plants in their youth: Their daughters decked out, adorned round about after the similitude of a temple:

    13  Their storehouses full, flowing out of this into that. Their sheep fruitful in young, abounding in their goings forth:

    14  their oxen fat. There is no breach of wall, nor passage, nor crying out in their streets.

    15  They have called the people happy, that hath these things: but happy is that people whose God is the Lord.
Lovers in a Dangerous Time
(Bruce Cockburn / Stealing Fire / 1991 - Amazon link)

This song speaks of "kicking against the darkness until it bleeds daylight" because in the words of Samwise Gamgee, "Mr. Frodo, there's some things worth fight'n for!" Perhaps Bono believes in love in contrast to these words of Mr. Cockburn, but sometimes when you love love, you have to fight to keep it in this world and especially in the mysterious world of our own hearts. Psalm 13 depicts the darkness and abrasiveness of a world against those who love quite well.
Lovers in a Dangerous Time (click to listen)

Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you're waiting for the sky to fall
The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all

When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin -- this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste

When you're lovers in a dangerous time
When you're lovers in a dangerous time

Sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime --
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight --
Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight

When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
And we're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

Toronto September 1983
Psalm 13 (14)  (click to listen)


The fool hath said in his heart.
[Dixit insipiens.]
1  Unto the end, a psalm for David.

    The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God, They are corrupt, and are become abominable in their ways: there is none that doth good, no not one.

    2  The Lord hath looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there be any that understand and seek God.

    3  They are all gone aside, they are become unprofitable together: there is none that doth good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre: with their tongues they acted deceitfully; the poison of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and unhappiness in their ways: and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.

    4  Shall not all they know that work iniquity, who devour my people as they eat bread ?

    5  They have not called upon the Lord: there have they trembled for fear, where there was no fear.

    6  For the Lord is in the just generation: you have confounded the counsel of the poor man, but the Lord is his hope.

    7  Who shall give out of Sion the salvation of Israel? when the Lord shall have turned away the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice and Israel shall be glad.
Relentless
(T Bone Burnett / The Talking Animals / 1990s - Amazon link)

Perhaps one of the best renditions of Psalm 138 recently recorded. You cant hide from God and his love will track you down like the hound of heaven. Not the catchiest of tunes but it has some beautiful poetry.
Relentless (click to listen)

I stand and tremble in the driving rain
while your love rages like a hurricane

i can't break the silence as you still the wind
but i can hear you breathing underneath my skin

i am relentless almost senseless you are relentless

i reel and stagger in the blinding light
while your love flashes like a lightening strike

so i find the darkness where i grow afraid
but i cannot shake you and the blackness fades

i am relentless almost senseless you are relentless

you are relentless
this mercy convulses my pride
you are relentless
i find you wherever i hide
you are relentless
i have got nothing to win
and so i give in

i run and stumble as the mountains shake
while your love blazes like a world in flames

to shoot all fear into the desert sky
as stars fall like water through the dead of night

i am relentless almost senseless you are relentless







Psalm 138 (139)  (click to listen)

Lord, thou hast proved me.
[Domine, probasti.]
1 Unto the end, a psalm of David.

    Lord, thou hast proved me, and known me:

    2 thou hast known my sitting down, and my rising up.

    3 Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off: my path and my line thou hast searched out.

    4 And thou hast foreseen all my ways: for there is no speech in my tongue.

    5 Behold, O Lord, thou hast known all things, the last and those of old: thou hast formed me, and hast laid thy hand upon me.

    6 Thy knowledge is become wonderful to me: it is high, and I cannot reach to it.

    7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy face?

    8 If I ascend into heaven, thou art there: if I descend into hell, thou art present.

    9 If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea:

    10 Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me.

    11 And I said: Perhaps darkness shall cover me: and night shall be my light in my pleasures.

    12 But darkness shall not be dark to thee, and night shall be light as day: the darkness thereof, and the light thereof are alike to thee.

    13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast protected me from my mother's womb.

    14 I will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified: wonderful are thy works, and my soul knoweth right well.

    15 My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth.

    16 Thy eyes did see my imperfect being, and in thy book all shall be written: days shall be formed, and no one in them.

    17 But to me thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened.

    18 I will number them, and they shall be multiplied above the sand: I rose up and am still with thee.

    19 If thou wilt kill the wicked, O God: ye men of blood, depart from me:

    20 Because you say in thought: They shall receive thy cities in vain.

    21 Have I not hated them, O Lord, that hated thee: and pine away because of thy enemies?

    22 I have hated them with a perfect hatred: and they are become enemies to me.

    23 Prove me, O God, and know my heart: examine me, and know my paths.

    24 And see if there be in me the way of iniquity: and lead me in the eternal way.
40
(U2 / War / 1984 - Amazon link)


This song made the Psalms cool for a while even in the late 80's. It is a simplified rendering of one of the most beautiful praise Psalms (40 in Hebrew numbering, 39 in the Greek), thanking God for rescuing us.

Again for such a spiritual song specifically thanking God to become so popular, it proves the thesis above that deep down in the core of our beings we need to be thankful to someone specific, namely the Creator-God whose image we bear.
40 (click to listen)

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry.
He brought me right out of the pit,
out of my miry clay.

I will sing a new song,
How long to sing this song?

He set my feet upon a rock,
and made my footsteps heard.
Many will see,
Many will see and fear.

I will sing, sing a new song.
How long to sing this song?

Psalm 39 (40) (click to listen)

With expectation I have waited.
[Expectans expectavi.]
1 Unto the end, a psalm for David himself.

2 With expectation I have waited for the Lord, and he was attentive to me.

3 And he heard my prayers, and brought me out of the pit of misery and the mire of dregs. And he set my feet upon a rock, and directed my steps.

4 And he put a new canticle into my mouth, a song to our God. Many shall see, and shall fear : and they shall hope in the Lord.

5 Blessed is the man whose trust is in the name of the Lord; and who hath not had regard to vanities, and lying follies.

6 Thou hast multiplied thy wonderful works, O Lord my God : and in thy thoughts there is no one like to thee. I have declared and I have spoken they are multiplied above number.

7 Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire; but thou hast pierced ears for me. Burnt offering and sin offering thou didst not require :

8 then said I, Behold I come. In the head of the book it is written of me

9 that I should do thy will : O my God, I have desired it, and thy law in the midst of my heart.

10 I have declared thy justice in a great church, lo, I will not restrain my lips : O Lord, thou knowest it.

11 I have not hid thy justice within my heart : I have declared thy truth and thy salvation. I have not concealed thy mercy and thy truth from a great council.

12 Withhold not thou, O Lord, thy tender mercies from me : thy mercy and thy truth have always upheld me.

13 For evils without number have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I was not able to see. They are multiplied above the hairs of my head : and my heart hath forsaken me.

14 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me, look down, O Lord, to help me.

15 Let them be confounded and ashamed together, that seek after my soul to take it away. Let them be turned backward and be ashamed that desire evils to me.

16 Let them immediately bear their confusion, that say to me : 'T is well, 't is well.

17 Let all that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee : and let such as love thy salvation say always : The Lord be magnified.

18 But I am a beggar and poor : the Lord is careful for me. Thou art my helper and my protector : O my God, be not slack.
Those Who Trust
(Enter The Worship Circle / First Circle / 1999 - Amazon link)

This Worship Circle rendering of Psalm 124 is great for campfires, djembes and guitars! It is pretty much a word for word reiteration of the Psalm and well recorded on this album.
Those Who Trust (click to listen)

Those who trust in the Lord
Are a strong mountain
They will not, not be moved

Those who trust in the Lord
Are as Mount Zion
They will not, not be moved

Christ the King, He sets my feet
On a firm foundation
They will not, not be moved

Though the world moves like mad
You alone are faithful
Jesus, You, You will not be changed
Psalm 124 (125) (click to listen)

They that trust.
[Qui confidunt.]
A gradual canticle.

    1  They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth

    2  in Jerusalem. Mountains are round about it: so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth now and for ever.

    3  For the Lord will not leave the rod of sinners upon the lot of the just: that the just may not stretch forth their hands to iniquity.

    4  Do good, O Lord, to those that are good, and to the upright of heart.

    5  But such as turn aside into bonds, the Lord shall lead out with the workers of iniquity: peace upon Israel.
All That You Have Is Your Soul
(Tracy Chapman / Crossroads / 1989 - Amazon link)

This is such a tender song as the words of a mother to her daughter directing her to keep the main thing the main thing. Beautifully written and recorded by Tracy and very much connected with so many of the Psalms but we had to pick one, so number 24, you are a winner!
All That You Have Is Your Soul (click to listen)

Oh my mama told me
'Cause she say she learned the hard way
Say she wanna spare the children
She say don't give or sell your soul away
'Cause all that you have is your soul

So don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

I was a pretty young girl once
I had dreams I had high hopes
Married a man he stole my heart away
Gave his love but what a high price I paid
All that you have is your soul

Don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Why was I such a young fool
Thought I'd make history
Making babies was the best I could do
Thought I'd made something that could be mine forever
Found out the hard way one can't possess another
And all that you have is your soul

Don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

I thought, thought I could find a way
Beat the system;
Make a deal and have no debts to pay
Take it all, I'd take it all, I'd run away
For me myself first class and first rate
But all that you have is your soul

So don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Here I am, I'm waiting for a better day
A second chance
A little luck to come my way
A hope to dream, a hope that I can sleep again
And wake in the world with a clear conscience and clean hands
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Oh my mama told me
'Cause she say she learned the hard way
Say she wanna spare the children
She say don't give or sell your soul away
'Cause all that you have is your soul

All that you have
All that you have
All that you have
Is your soul





Psalm 24 (25)  (click to listen)


To thee, O Lord, have I lifted.
[Ad te, Domine, levavi.]
1  Unto the end, a psalm for David.

    To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul.

    2  In thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed.

    3  Neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on thee shall be confounded.

    4  Let all them be confounded that act unjust things without cause. Shew, O Lord, thy ways to me, and teach me thy paths.

    5  Direct me in thy truth, and teach me; for thou art God my Saviour; and on thee have I waited all the day long.

    6  Remember, O Lord, thy bowels of compassion; and thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world.

    7  The sins of my youth and my ignorances do not remember. According to thy mercy remember thou me: for thy goodness' sake, O Lord.

    8  The Lord is sweet and righteous: therefore he will give a law to sinners in the way.

    9  He will guide the mild in judgment: he will teach the meek his ways.

    10  All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after his covenant and his testimonies.

    11  For thy name's sake, O Lord, thou wilt pardon my sin: for it is great.

    12  Who is the man that feareth the Lord? He hath appointed him a law in the way he hath chosen.

    13  His soul shall dwell in good things: and his seed shall inherit the land.

    14  The Lord is a firmament to them that fear him: and his covenant shall be made manifest to them.

    15  My eyes are ever towards the Lord: for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare.

    16  Look thou upon me, and have mercy on me; for I am alone and poor.

    17  The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities.

    18  See my abjection and my labour; and forgive me all my sins.

    19  Consider my enemies for they are multiplied, and have hated me with an unjust hatred.

    20  Keep thou my soul, and deliver me: I shall not be ashamed, for I have hoped in thee.

    21  The innocent and the upright have adhered to me: because I have waited on thee.

    22  Deliver Israel, O God, from all his tribulations.
Picture of Jesus
(Ben Harper and the Blind Boys from Alabama / There Will Be A Light / 2004 - Amazon link)

Alright now seriously, this is the last Ben Harper song :) And why not one more? This song shows the tender longing of a heart that is aflame with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We have our loved one's pictures all over our houses and offices and in our wallets and purses and cars. It is good and right to have icons of the Word of God who became flesh in the same places.

It is only natural and affirming of the incarnation to have Christ in our wallets and on our walls next to our family photos. It is no less natural to kiss His picture than any of our families pictures when we miss them and we can't kiss them in person. Try it, you'll like it! Psalm 8 is one of those prophetic Psalms that speaks clearly of the Son of Man and His love for mankind.
Picture of Jesus (click to listen)

It hangs above my altar
Like they hung him from a cross
I keep one in my wallet
For the times I feel lost
I feel lost
In a wooden frame with splinters
Where my family kneels to pray
And if you listen close
You'll hear the words he used to say

I've got a picture of Jesus
In his arms so many prayers rest
We've got a picture of Jesus
And with him we shall be forever blessed
Forever blessed
Forever blessed

Now it has been spoken
He would come again
But would we recognize
This king among men
There was a man in our time
His words shine bright like the sun
He tried to lift the masses
And was crucified by gun

He was a picture of Jesus
With him so many prayers rest
He is a picture of Jesus
In his arms so many prayers
So many prayers
So many prayers rest
With him we shall be forever blessed
Forever blessed
Forever blessed

Some days have no beginning
And some days have no end
Some roads are straight and narrow
And some roads only bend
So let us say a prayer
For every living thing
Walking towards a light
From the cross of a king

We long to be a picture of Jesus
Of Jesus
In his arms - In his arms so many prayers rest
I long to be a picture of Jesus
With him we shall be forever blessed
With him we shall
With him we shall be forever blessed
Oh I long
I've got a picture of Jesus
Mmhh
Psalm 8 (click to listen)

O Lord, our Lord.
[Domine, Dominus noster.]
1  Unto the end, for the presses: a psalm for David.

    2  O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens.

    3  Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.

    4  For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded.

    5  What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?

    6  Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour:

    7  and hast set him over the works of thy hands.

    8  Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields.

    9  The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea.

    10  O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!
Bright Wings
(Mortal / Fathom / 1990s - Amazon link)

Adapted from "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins this is simply a beautiful song of Praise and trust in the love of the Holy Ghost for all creation. Mortal treats us to some music that haunts us as the Holy Ghost broods with warm breast and Ah! Bright Wings! Mr. Hopkins I'm sure was inspired by one of the Psalms of praise like number 148 below.
Bright Wings (click to listen)

The world is charged with the
Grandeur of God
The world is charged with beauty
It will flame out, like shining from
Shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the
Ooze of oil
Crushed

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World
Broods with warm breast and with
Ah!
Bright Wings

And for all this, nature is never
Spent;
There lives the dearest freshness
Deep down things;

And though the last lights
Off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink east-
Ward, springs -

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World
Broods with warm breast and with
Ah!
Bright Wings

(adapted from "God's Grandeur" by
Gerard Manley Hopkins)
Psalm 148 (click to listen)

Praise ye the Lord from the heavens.
[Laudate Dominum de caelis.]
Alleluia.

1 Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the high places.

2 Praise ye him , all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.

3 Praise ye him, O sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light.

4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens: and let all the waters that are above the heavens

5 praise the name of the Lord. For he spoke, and they were made: he commanded, and they were created.

6 He hath established them for ever, and for ages of ages: he hath made a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all ye deeps:

8 Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds which fulfil his word:

9 Mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars:

10 Beasts and all cattle: serpents and feathered fowls:

11 Kings of the earth and all people: princes and all judges of the earth:

12 Young men and maidens: let the old with the younger, praise the name of the Lord:

13 for his name alone is exalted.

14 The praise of him is above heaven and earth: and he hath exalted the horn of his people. A hymn to all his saints: to the children of Israel, a people approaching to him. Alleluia.
Psalm
(P.O.D. / The Fundamental Elements of Southtown / 1991 - Amazon link)

This chant is believe it or not sandwiched in the middle of a CD full of some pretty loud rapcore punk music from a band that was pretty big for a while. It sounds like they recorded a Rabbi speaking the Psalm and then overlaid the guitar later. Still sounds pretty sweet.

I've only been to a synagogue service once but I remember enjoying it. It makes one feel connected to the history of it all. The only thing that compares is walking into an Orthodox Christian Divine Liturgy. I highly recomend it.
Psalm (click to listen)

Haleluyah.
Hal'lu el b'kodsho,
Hal'luhu birkia uzo
Hal'luhu bigvurotav,
Hal'luhu k'rov gud'lo
Hal'luhu b'teika shofar,
Hal'luhu b'nevel v'chinor.
Hal'luhu b'tof umachol.
Hal'luhu b'minim v'ugav
Hal'luhu b'tziltzelei shama,
Hal'luhu b'tziltzelei tru'ah
Kol han'shama t'halel yah.
Haleluyah

Psalm 150 (click to listen)

Praise ye the Lord in his holy places.
[Laudate Dominum in sanctis.]
Alleluia.

    1  Praise ye the Lord in his holy places: praise ye him in the firmament of his power.

    2  Praise ye him for his mighty acts: praise ye him according to the multitude of his greatness.

    3  Praise him with sound of trumpet: praise him with psaltery and harp.

    4  Praise him with timbrel and choir: praise him with strings and organs.

    5  Praise him on high sounding cymbals: praise him on cymbals of joy: let every spirit praise the Lord. Alleluia.



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