photo by Craig Weaver
My brother has a small tattoo inked on the inside of his left wrist that reads, “dismantle. repair.” They are lyrics from the song, “Dismantle. Repair“, by Anberlin, off their 2007 album, Cities.
“Hands, like secrets/Are the hardest thing to keep from you/Lines and phrases, like knives/Your words can cut me through/Dismantle me down/Repair/You’ve dismantled me/You’ve dismantled me/Save me from myself/Save me from myself/Help me save me from myself”
The song could be a Psalm. The Psalms are the book of 150 hymns in the Old Testament of the Bible. The Greek translation of the word ‘psalms’ literally means, “songs sung.” The Psalms can be grouped into similar themes of thanksgiving, praise or lament. Many of the Psalms are credited as being written by King David (1040–970 BC) but some of them date much earlier in Jewish history.
I started to think about some other contemporary tunes that could be labeled as modern Psalms. After considering dozens of songs, I narrowed my list to these top five in no particular order:
1. Collective Soul’s “Hymn for My Father“, off their 2009 album, Collective Soul.
“I will follow, I will follow/Till the stars fall down, till the sun burns out/I will follow, I will follow/Till Gabriel’s horn does sound/I will follow, I will follow/Through the path You chose with the words You spoke/I will follow, I will follow/By the love You always showed/I won’t cry out ’cause love has lifted me/I won’t cry out ’cause now I will receive/Everything that You’ve given me/All things to me/I will follow, I will follow/For in You I do believe”
2. DMX’s “Lord, Give Me A Sign”, off his 2006 album, Year of the Dog. . . Again.
Lord give me a sign/I really need to talk to you Lord/Since the last time we talked the walk has been hard/Now I know you haven’t left me/But I feel like I’m alone/I’m a big boy now but I’m still not grown/And I’m still goin’ through it/The pain and the hurt/Soaking up trouble like rain in the dirt/And I know only I can stop the rain/With just the mention of my savior’s name/In the name of Jesus/Devil I rebuke you for what I go through/And tryin’ to make me do what I used to/But all that stops right here/As long as the Lord’s in my life I will have no fear/I will know no pain from the light to the dark/I will show no shame spit it right from the heart/Cause’ it’s right from the start /But you held me down/And ain’t nothin’ they can tell me now/Lord give me a sign”
3. Glen Phillips’ “Thank You“, off his 2008 album, Mr. Lemons.
“You made this world/You made this world/You made this world/Thank you, thank you/You gave me life/You gave me life/You gave me life/Thank you, thank you/Your love is everywhere/Your love is everywhere/Open me, open me/You sowed these seeds/You sowed these seeds/You sowed these seeds/Thank you, thank you/You brought this peace/You brought this peace/You brought this peace/Thank you, thank you/Your love is everywhere/Your love is everywhere/Your love is everywhere/Open me, open me/You kept me warm/You kept me warm/You kept me warm/Thank you, thank you/When I was in the desert/When I was in the war/When I was all alone/Thank you, thank you/Your love is everywhere/Your love is everywhere/Your love is everywhere/Open me”
4. Sean McConnell’s “Saint’s Heart in a Sinner’s Skin“, off his 2010 album, Saints, Thieves & Liars.
“Father forgive me, I know exactly what I do/And I keep doin’ it right in front of you/Yeah, but I heard you’re patient/Yeah, well I sure hope that’s true/’Cause it’s been a long, long, long time/Since I’ve been real with you/I’m a saint’s heart in a sinner’s skin/I feel them in there wrestling/I know the spirit and the devil’s touch/I just never know which one’s gonna win/Yeah I’m a saint’s heart in a sinner’s skin/Yeah I’m a saint’s heart in a sinner’s skin”
5. U2’s “40“, off their 1983 album, War.
“I waited patiently for the Lord/He inclined and heard my cry/He brought me up out of the pit/Out of the miry clay/I will sing, sing a new song/I will sing, sing a new song/How long to sing this song/How long to sing this song/How long, how long /How long, how long to sing this song/He set my feet upon a rock/And made my footsteps firm/Many will see/Many will see and fear/I will sing, sing a new song/I will sing, sing a new song/I will sing, sing a new song”
What better way to end this post than the way U2 used to end their concerts, finishing with “40“, a song written about Psalms 40. Bono recalls that “40” was the last song written for the album because the band had used up all its studio time but they felt they needed one more song to close the record. The Edge played guitar while Bono opened a Bible and sang the verses of Psalm 40.
“Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.” – Psalms 47:6 (NIV)