It is impossible for me to read Psalm 137 and not think of Don McLean’s 1969 Babylon. I read the Psalm’s opening lines and instantly I am transported to McLean’s 1 minute 41 second recording.
His musical interpretation, with its haunting melody, his liquidly smooth voice coupled with his understanding of the texture of the Psalm and its mourning over Jerusalem is simply unforgettable. But beyond unforgettable, McLean’s interpretation is spot on. Somber, dark, melancholy, yet, longing, loving and with just a hint of hope.
That’s Psalm 137.
To be sure, there are horrors included at the end of the Psalm that I do not completely understand and for which I can offer only tentative explanations for the extreme imprecation of the last line. I’m still puzzleing over the Old Covenant verses the New Covenant. Here’s the recording:
At the end of this post there is a live recording of McLean getting a whole concert crowd to sing the song in a three-part round. Beautiful. Good example for a worship leader leading a congregation.
But for now here’s a new offering for The Poetry Project.
Read Psalm 137
You Will Not Forsake Us
We hang our memories where we can see them
So our captors will know we are free
And even though our hearts are shaking
We will remember our songs to Thee
And our songs will carve the memory
Our songs will be the braille we read
To remind our souls once again
Even when we cannot see
That You will never forsake us
As we sing our songs to Thee
Go to Psalm 138.
And here’s a live recording in concert, where he gets the entire audience involved in singing Babylon in the round and explains some of his thinking about the song.
One thought on ““You Will Not Forget Us””
A nice chapter to meditate on. A really tough pill to swallow…