Longing For God

The line from today’s psalm is perhaps one of the ten most familiar passages in the Psalter:

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. (Ps 42:2)

But this lament, probably a single piece with Psalm 43, offers a thrice-repeated refrain:

Why are you downcast, my soul; why do you groan within me? Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God. (Ps 42:6, 11; Ps 43:5)

In musical settings, and even in the Lectionary, the preference seems not to be with the natural refrain of the psalm, but with the tender image of the deer. I recommend the full Psalm 42-43 for reflection. It has a lot to offer: tears, pilgrimage, roaring flood, mountain escape, God’s light of truth. I can imagine a three-movement symphony ending with a depiction of the light of God enveloping a loyal believer.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Longing For God

  1. I’m not sure I’m down with the Bambi ethos, Todd. I’ve often referred to the ubiquitous Palestrina setting as exhibit A of stile romantico for classic polyphony, especially when the new motive for “ita desiderat” winds out those gorgeous suspensions. That’s why one just sez “Sicut cervus” and everyone goes “oooh.”

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