Songs for Psalms 113-118

Music: Choral Prelude (part 1): Wie shoen leuchtet der Morgenstern.
By Hugo Distler. Sequenced by John H. McCloskey, at Kunst der Fuge.

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On Psalms
113-118

Meditations

Responsa

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Copyright by
Nicholas Gordon

Song for Psalm 113

I have much to thank you for:
For the beauty of the earth;
For the loveliness of living
And the mystery of birth.
But today I sing of one great gift
That you have given more,
A gift I know that long ago
I should have thanked you for:

Thank you for America,
For the gift of being free;
For being born a child
Of this land of liberty;
For the privilege of power,
And the joy of dignity,
And the pleasure of abundance,
And the dream of what might be.

I have much to thank you for:
For the gift of loving you;
For my faith and your commandments,
That guide all that I do.
But today I sing of one great gift
That you have given more,
A gift I know that long ago
I should have thanked you for:

Thank you for America . . . etc.

I have much to thank you for:
For my children and my wife;
For those I love, and those who love me
Through this fleeting life.
But today I sing of one great gift
That you have given more,
A gift I know that long ago
I should have thanked you for:

Thank you for America . . . etc.

(repeat)

Song for Psalm 114

Lord, give me a child,
An American child,
Born in the land of the free!
Whose life will be long,
And whose spirit is strong,
Full of power and dignity!

Lord, give me a child,
An American child,
Who'll always have plenty to eat.
Whose only concern
Will be how much to learn,
And who'll have all the world at his feet.

For the heart is aflutter
At meat, eggs, and butter,
And a table that groans with delight.
And the heart is amazed
At a mind that's unfazed,
That is free to choose what it thinks right.

Lord, give me a child,
An American child,
Whose reality will be my dream.
Of the unsculpted dust
Of my love and my lust,
Make a life that my life will redeem.

For the world knows the way
To a much brighter day,
But it isn't that easy to make it.
If not granted by birth,
From the ends of the earth
We will crawl on our bellies to take it!

Lord, give me a child,
An American child,
Safe behind mountains of laws.
In the fullness of time
This joy will be mine,
And the glory, the glory all yours!

Song for Psalm 115

I bless the Lord on going out,
Again on coming in;
Before I wash my hands,
And before I break my bread;
After waking up
And before I go to sleep:
All these times I bless the Lord.

I bless my children Friday nights,
My hands upon their heads;
I go to shul and bless the Lord
Time and time again;
The Sabbath done, we all join hands
And bless the sacred day:
All these times I bless the Lord.

Why do I, a modern American,
Do these ancient things?
The same words at the same times
Till time itself shall end?
For I am blessed at every moment
Of this gift of life.
And so I bless the Lord.

I bless the Lord for bread and wine;
I bless the holy days;
I bless the meat that had been blessed
Before the blood was drawn;
I bless the Lord for commanding me
To utter all these blessings:
All these times I bless the Lord.

I bless the Lord each time the Torah
Scrolls are taken out,
And then again each time the scrolls
Are wrapped and placed within;
I bless the Lord for giving me
The Law by which I live:
All these times I bless the Lord.

Why do I, a modern American,
Do these ancient things?
The same words at the same times
Till time itself shall end?
For I am blessed at every moment
Of this gift of life.
And so I bless the Lord,
And so I bless the Lord.

Song for Psalm 116

I look into your face and see
My face, my eyes, my heart.
Are you my mirror? Or am I yours?
Or is this just America?

I pray to you as of old,
With all my soul and might.
You lift me up to wealth and power.
Or is this just America?

You are my father, friend, and guide,
To whom I speak each day.
You are the helpmeet by my side,
My wind, my will, my way.

And yet . . . and yet . . . there is a rush
Of things that like a veil
Hides me even from myself.
Or is this just America?

Time takes me timeless downstream, as I
Watch you watching me
Motionless upon the shore.
Or is this just America?

I try to do what you would do
Were you being me,
But no one I know acts that way.
Or is this just America?

You are my father, friend, and guide . . . etc.

And yet . . . and yet . . . you are a void,
A name without a name.
I praise you through a pane of glass.
Or is this just America?

And yet . . . and yet . . . you seem detached,
Or is it I from you?
Or are you living in my heart?
Or is this just America?

Song for Psalm 117

A multitude of gods
For a multitude of peoples;
A multitude of faiths
For a multitude of faces.
And yet I wander through this vast
Bizarre bazaar of truth
In love with you,
With only you,
The Lord of all that is.

A multitude of meanings
For a multitude of phrases;
A multitude of rituals
That bind one fast to life.
And yet I wander through this vast
Bizarre bazaar of truth
In love with you,
With only you,
The Lord of all that is.

How can I believe in you
When you are one of many,
And pass that faith on to my children's
Children undisturbed?
How can love for you remain
The passion of their being,
When passion is a marketplace
Where people try on words?

A multitude of ways
To a multitude of endings;
A multitude of rights against
A multitude of wrongs.
And yet I wander through this vast
Bizarre bazaar of truth
In love with you,
With only you,
The Lord of all that is.

How can there be beauty in
This thing we call America,
Where contradictions cradle in
Familial embrace?
How can love admit that there
Are lovers just as lovely,
When in the teeth of death
We have worshipped only you?

A multitude of friends,
Lovers, husbands, wives, and children;
A multitude of powers to which
Multitudes might pray.
And yet I wander through this vast
Bizarre bazaar of truth
In love with you,
With only you,
The Lord of all that is.

Song for Psalm 118

We live in a land of plenty,
Practitioners of pleasure,
Blessed to be where we are,
Blessed to be in America!

Lord, fill us with laughter,
Fill us with laughter and longing!
Of all with which we are blessed,
You are our greatest blessing!

We live in a land of profusion,
Denizens of desire,
Blessed to be where we are,
Blessed to be in America!

Lord, fill us with glory,
Fill us with glory and love!
Of all with which we are blessed,
You are our greatest blessing!

For we have been chosen for freedom,
A light unto the world,
A shining light to all peoples!
And we have been given great wealth,
The bank and the engine of progress,
To lift up the lives of all peoples!

We live in a land of change,
Guardians of the future,
Blessed to be where we are,
Blessed to be in America!

Lord, fill us with wisdom,
Fill us with wisdom and passion!
Of all with which we are blessed,
You are our greatest blessing!

Lift us up, O Lord,
That freedom might spread and prosper.
Lift us up, O Lord,
That we might be a beacon,
A bright and shining beacon
By which all the world might find peace.

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