Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Psalm 150:6, Grace A. Washington, 2003

Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
Psalms 150

The final psalm in the Book of Psalms is a pure, unabashed, uplifting song of praise, both starting and ending with the same Hebrew word , translated here as Praise ye the Lord but in other versions transliterated as Hallelujah. Throughout the Book of Psalms we hear of struggles and difficulties, successes and failures, we hear of the follies of man, falling away from and clambering back to God, we hear lament and we hear hope, and here rising above it all we hear this beautiful expression of gratitude and awe.

There are moments in life of which we might say, "it took my breath away". A beautiful sunrise or sunset, a rainbow after a storm, an unexpected gesture of pure kindness, witnessed or experienced. We suddenly feel glad to be alive, glad to be integrated into the natural world, or the community in which we live. The words we utter, or simply feel in our hearts are words of praise, words of amazement, celebration for the glory of life. Artists and musicians are inspired to paint these moments or capture them in song. All of us hold them in our hearts in some way, drawing on them perhaps in times of hardship.

Moments of hope and beauty keep us going when the going gets tough. Interestingly, I experience these moments of gratitude more when I am focused on being of service to others. When I am tangled up in my own life, my own problems such moments are more elusive. I don't find songs of praise when I need them most, I find them when I seek them most, I find them when I look outward, towards the other.

Music Hallelujah, the original version of this oft-covered song, written and sung by Leonard Cohen, from the album Various Positions, 1984