Good morning, dear friends!
In preparation for what will be discussed during worship this Sunday, I wanted to take a chance to take a closer look at Psalm 84.
Psalm 84 begins a series of psalms (84-89) written ca. 6th century BCE by the Korahites (who acted as doorkeepers of the tabernacle in the Temple). It begins with the famous line "How lovely is Thy dwelling place, o Lord of Hosts". Within this group of psalms, Psalm 84 ties the presence of the divine to the temple. There is disagreement on whether this Psalm was written before or after the exile to Babylon (6th Century BCE), but Psalms 84-89 were known to the Israelites at the time of the exile and sought to provide hope to those that had seemingly lost connection to the divine. As is often the case with Old Testament writings, the psalm goes on to take a new meaning in the course of subsequent historical development. The destruction of the Temple leads to a dissociation between the physical building and the divine. The result of this is the veneration of the Torah as the unifying bond that links together a community in exile. The emphasis on the preeminence of the Torah continues to the present day. In the Christian tradition, the temple as a dwelling place of the divine becomes less physical and more spiritual. The God of the Christians dwells not only within the walls of the church, but also within the hearts of believers. In this context, Psalm 84 does not provide the same hope that it once did. In later Christian thinking, the "dwelling place" of the Lord became associated with the afterlife. To me, this psalm serves as a clear reminder of the resilience of faith in the face of adversity. Today, I would choose to see it from the perspective of Sir Thomas More, who wrote a famous commentary to the Psalm while awaiting trial in the Tower of London, expressing his longing to be part of Christian worship. There are a number of historic settings of this psalm, but today I would like to share the most famous one, by the German composer Johannes Brahms. Set as the fourth movement of his German Requiem. For the purposes of literary clarity, the recording I wanted to share with you today will be an English translation from the original German, performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Hope you enjoy, my friends. I hope you are well and happy these days. And we shall see each other soon! Vlad S.