The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
— Psalm 19:1
Psalm 19, one of the readings from the Hebrew Scriptures on the third Sunday in Lent, is a noble proclamation of God’s natural revelation. According to C.S. Lewis, it is “the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” He must have liked it very much. (Read the whole psalm here.)
From the heavens to the heart
The theme of the psalm is about the natural world, yes, but more — it proclaims that the whole of creation conveys God’s wisdom and eternal Word. The direction of the psalm is down and in. It begins in the heavens and travels to the heart. But it doesn’t stay there. It returns to the Creator with this confession: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (v. 14)
From the shining lights of the sky to the sun captured in the bead of dew resting on a blossom, the whole of the universe trembles like a web in response to the touch of God. This happens both somewhere and everywhere at once, whether or not our eyes are open to see it. But serendipity! Every once in a while, they are. At least in part. And when that happens: O that God would give us mouths to sing about it!
That’s what Psalm 19 accomplishes.
A vast message is being transmitted every day. Are you hearing it?
The grass seemed signalling to me with all its fingers at once;
the crowded stars seemed bent upon being understood.
The sun would make me see him if he rose a thousand times.
The recurrences of the universe rose to the maddening rhythm of an incantation,
and I began to see an idea.
— G.K. Chesterton
I sing the mighty power of God
One hymn that captures this idea of God’s glory on display is I Sing the Mighty Power of God and Maureen’s whirling arrangement of it reflects the energy of that trembling web spun by nothing other than God’s imaginative, creative, and communicative Spirit.
I Sing the Mighty Power of God
I sing the mighty power of God,
that made the mountains rise,
that spread the flowing seas abroad,
and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day;
the moon shines full at His command,
and all the stars obey.
I sing the goodness of the Lord,
that filled the earth with food;
He formed the creatures with His Word,
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed,
where’er I turn my eye,
if I survey the ground I tread,
or gaze upon the sky!
There’s not a plant or flower below,
but makes Thy glories known;
and clouds arise, and tempests blow,
by order from Thy throne;
while all that borrows life from Thee
is ever in Thy care,
and everywhere that we can be,
Thou, God, art present there.
Text: Isaac Watts, 1715
Tune: Ellacombe, Gesangbuch der Herzogl. Wirtembergischen Katholischen Hofkapelle, 1784.
This Arrangement: © 2020 Maureen Howell