I greet you today with a heavy heart. We have so much to be grateful for in this world, but the overwhelming hurt, tragedy, and devastation in our current times cannot be ignored. I am a person who is all about hope. Everything I come up against, I sift through the filter of hope and what God can do in even the most daunting situations. But these days, that is more of a struggle.
For the past month or so I have been reading through the Psalms. It is amazing how much relevance there is within these ancient writings. They are so relatable and have a little of everything - praise, lament, joy, sorrow, thanksgiving, and questioning. There is so much humanity and deep processing of big feelings.
Many of you know I am a painter - expressing myself through art is a helpful outlet.
The Psalms are poetry, another form of artistic expression. I did a quick google search and got some tips about how to write a psalm. You all know Sharon and I are great believers and invest a lot of time journaling - sorting through your experiences and feelings by writing them out. I’m a teacher and a feeler, so I thought I’d give it a try to write my own Psalm, and then encourage you all to write your own! I thought it might help us sort out our big feelings, regarding Covid-19, our nation's heartbreak over George Floyd, and whatever else you might be dealing with personally in your life.
So, here are some tips I gathered from my research. I will briefly summarize and then add the links for more detailed information for you at the bottom of this post.
How to Write Your Own Psalm (abbreviated from www.cloversites.com)
1. Pray, get in touch with your feelings. What is a burden, joy, or passion that needs to be expressed?
2. Pick a theme of focus. Some ideas are: praising God for who He is; thanksgiving for what He has done; expressing fear or doubt; praise for a specific blessing; remembering a special event; confession, etc.
3. Make it personal.
4. Use descriptive language. This is poetry.
5. Try writing it in the format the Hebrews used.
6. Here are three types of parallelism that the biblical Psalmists used in their Psalms:
Synonymous parallelism - the expression in the first line is repeated in the second line (Like in Psalm 139:7-8...” Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
Antithetical parallelism - the parallel verse states the opposite idea (Like in Psalm 20:7-8...” Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
·Synthetic parallelism - one thought is stated and the following verses develop or complete the thought (Like in Psalm 84:10-11...”Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my dwell in the house of the wicked.”)
7. Another resource I found was www.reformedworship.org who shared that at their church they did a workshop on writing your psalm, and their focus was on faith (trusting God no matter what); honesty (freely expressed); and writing reflectively from your own experiences.
8. The final point shared was that we are writing from the perspective of New Testament Christians - we know the Messiah has come, unlike the ancient psalmists.
Here we go! I read through three different articles with tips and suggestions for themes and structure, and I gave it a try....give me grace, because I am a visual artist, not a poet!! But I wanted to write one and show you that you can do it too!!
My Psalm for the Current Times of Trouble
Oh, God, You know it all from beginning to end;
When will Your creation allow their hearts to bend?
So much hurt, so much sorrow;
You are the answer to a better tomorrow.
Hurt people hurt, common kindness is lost;
Your Spirit is ready, devotion the cost.
Self-control, gentleness, and love are Your fruit;
When we try to fix it ourselves, the results are moot.
Lord, please come, You are mighty to save;
The pain is unending, things look mighty grave.
I will continue to look to Your Word;
And depend on the promises I’ve heard.
I will walk by faith, and not by sight;
And believe in Your truth with the fullest of might.
There it is!
I chose to add rhyme because I thought it helped me organize my thoughts a bit. I didn’t use the parallelism types specifically but did consider that format. I don’t know, I feel like when we feel helpless or overwhelmed, we should try to sort it out. And we do have a God who cares about every little thing we feel, whether we are eloquent poets or not.
So, ladies, who else wants to give it a try? Sharon and I would love to see your versions in the Better Than Fine Facebook group!!
I love each one of you and pray that in these hard days, you share love and grace and hope with your people. We need to stick together. Jesus told us to love one another. Let us start with ourselves.
Here are the links for the resources I used:
· “How to Write a Psalm”, www.cloversites.com’
· “Writing Your Own Psalm”, by Howard D. Vanderwell - www.reformedworship.org