Friday, May 15, 2015

Updated Hymnology #1: Be Not Far Off for Grief is Near

The words of Scripture have long provided comfort for the Church militant. Sometimes it is hard for the Church to see how God's Word speaks to all ages of her life, and so I'm inclined to offer some explicit applications of metrical psalms which have contemporary significance. I don't claim that my applications are exhaustive, or even the most acute or penetrating. I claim only relevance, and I beg for a measure of sympathy in such lamentations. (n.b. - my words are italicized, while the original hymn is not).

Be not far off, for grief is near, and none to help is found;
For bulls of Bashan in their strength now circle me around.
Their lion jaws they open wide, and roar to tear their prey.
My heart is wax, my bones unknit, my life is poured away.

Stay not Thy might, to offer help, while a few brave souls still stand,
For Sodom’s dogs our blood have smelled and gather as a band.
From foaming jaws they spit forth lies, and bark to back us down.
Our hearts like wax melt in our pride, our zeal nowhere is found.

My strength is only broken clay; my mouth and tongue are dry,
For in the very dust of death You there make me to lie.
For see how dogs encircle me! On every side there stands
A brotherhood of cruelty; they pierce my feet and hands.

Our words are mealy-mouthéd spoke, their edge is blunted steel,
To idols we have bowed our heads, as slaves we’ve dropped to kneel.
O see the beds in which we lie, filthy adulteries!
Cleanse out Thy temple, O my God! Give ear unto my pleas!

My bones are plain for me to count; men see me and they stare.
My clothers among them they divide, and gamble for their share.
Now hurry, O my Strength, to help! Do not be far, O Lord!
But snatch my soul from raging dogs, and spare me from the sword.

Our numbers dwindle in their midst; they plunder all our shares.
Vain comforts in the goods of earth; we’re taken unawares.
Now hurry, O my Strength, to help! Do not be far, O Lord!

But snatch our souls from Sodom’s sons, and spare us from their sword.

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