The News Today. How to Use U2 News. U2 Affiliate Code. U2 Connections. Achtoon Baby! U2 Podcasts. Submit A News Tip. Bono, U2's singer and a campaigner to end Third World debt, argues that the psalms truly rock the soul.
The Psalms Project Lyrics
The Guardian U. October 31, Explaining belief has always been difficult. How do you explain a love and logic at the heart of the universe when the world is so out of kilter with this?
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Has free will got us crucified? And what about the dodgy characters who inhabit the tome known as the Bible, who hear the voice of God? Explaining faith is impossible: vision over visibility; instinct over intellect. A songwriter plays a chord with the faith that he will hear the next one in his head. One of the writers of the psalms was a musician, a harp-player whose talents were required at "the palace" as the only medicine that would still the demons of the moody and insecure King Saul of Israel.
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At the age of 12, I was a fan of David. He felt familiar, like a pop star could feel familiar.
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The words of the psalms were as poetic as they were religious, and he was a star. Before David could fulfil the prophecy and become the king of Israel, he had to take quite a beating.
He was forced into exile and ended up in a cave in some no-name border town facing the collapse of his ego and abandonment by God. But this is where the soap opera got interesting. This is where David was said to have composed his first psalm -- a blues.
That's what a lot of the psalms feel like to me, the blues. Man shouting at God -- "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me? I hear echoes of this holy row when un-holy bluesman Robert Johnson howls, "There's a hellhound on my trail" or Van Morrison sings, "Sometimes, I feel like a motherless child. Send me back my woman, then thy will be done. Abandonment and displacement are the stuff of my favourite psalms. The Psalter may be a font of gospel music, but for me it's despair that the psalmist really reveals and the nature of his special relationship with God.
Honesty, even to the point of anger. Wilt thou hide thyself forever? Psalms and hymns were my first taste of inspirational music. I liked the words, but I wasn't sure about the tunes -- with the exception of Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd. When I hear these singers, I am reconnected to a part of me I have no explanation for -- my "soul" I guess.
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Words and music did for me what solid, even rigorous, religious argument could never do -- they introduced me to God, not belief in God, more an experiential sense of GOD. Over art, literature, girls, my mates, the way in to my spirit was a combination of words and music. As a result, the Book of Psalms always felt open to me and led me to the poetry of Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the book of John My religion could not be fiction, but it had to transcend facts. It could be mystical, but not mythical. My mother was Protestant, my father Catholic. Anywhere other than Ireland that would be unremarkable.
The "Prods" at that time had the better tunes and the Catholics had the better stage-gear. My mate Gavin Friday used to say: "Roman Catholicism is the Glamrock of religion" with its candles and psychedelic colours -- cardinal blues, scarlets and purples -- smoke bombs of incense and the ring of the little bell. The Prods were better at the bigger bells, they could afford them. In Ireland, wealth and Protestantism went together. To have either was to have collaborated with the enemy -- that is, Britain. This did not fly in our house. After going to Mass at the top of the hill, in Finglas on the north side of Dublin, my father waited outside the little Church of Ireland chapel at the bottom of the hill, where my mother had brought her two sons.
Psalm Like It Hot
This isn't the life that I dreamed it could be I'm staring into the eyes of the shell left of me And now every decision I make The good, the pleasure and the pain Could simply all be erased If I choose it to be This nightmare unfolds like a rose awakes to the spring Always so close to the sanity I'm trying to cling to I'm tearing out the pages 'cause it hurts To be forced to feel the hearts break How much of this torture can I take?
Is it not worth the risk to create Just one more try?
I know that I can fix it If you could rewrite our life any way that you please Would you tear out the pages of our memories? Would you take back the pain and all the hurt we create?
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Or could you be satisfied with the love that you've made with me? If you could rewrite our life any way that you please Would you tear out the pages of our memories? Or could you be satisfied with the promise you made?