I recently joined the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and have truly enjoyed singing in an ensemble regularly again. One of the pieces we’re doing at our concert this Sunday is a 3-movement piece by Bernstein featuring a collection of Psalms sung in Hebrew. No matter what order we rehearse the movements in, the second one is the one that always plays over and over in my head for days after a rehearsal.
A soloist and the women start by singing the well-known Psalm 23, when suddenly they are interrupted by the men singing Psalm 2. We go from peaceful sheep in green pastures by still waters to “why do the nations rage?!?” with quite a different tone. Part of the way into the men’s psalm, the women come back in recounting the Lord as their Shepherd again over the top of the chaos described in Psalm 2. While the words are powerful (especially when you look at them in English together), it suddenly meant so much more when I saw the musical markings as the women come back in. Typically the music may say something like “fast and crisp” or “bright sound.” In this section we are instructed by the composer to come in singing “blissfully unaware of threat“. (You can listen to this movement here performed by the Taipei City Symphony.)
In my mind, this musical note isn’t suggesting being naive about the danger, but rather, of remembering in Whose arms you rest as the “nations rage”. A sheep doesn’t spend all of it’s days freaking out about the potential dangers around them, and even if they do, there is absolutely nothing they could do on their own to protect themselves from the things that might attack them. They have to depend on their shepherd.
The same is true for us.
So today in my Lenten journey, I give up worry. I give up freaking out about things over which I have no control. I give up wondering when things will happen in my life. I give up worrying about our own “raging nations” in the world today. I give up unproductive concern for loved ones. Worrying about things doesn’t make any potential threat go away.
Instead as the troubles come, I pray that I can simply rest content in my Shepherd’s arms… that I find myself blissfully unaware… abiding in His love.
Adonai r-oi, (The Lord, My Shepherd), even when I walk through the valleys of life, may I do so without fear, because I can trust that You are with me. Help me today, give up my worry and replace it with trust. No matter what is going on around me or what happens in this life, may I rest secure knowing that I will dwell in Your house, forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen