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More Than Watchmen (Psalm 130)

posted Apr 9, 2011, 8:34 AM by Steven Vaughan
Today's Responsorial Psalm, traditionally referred to as the De Profundis, is a lament used in liturgical prayers for the faithfully departed.  Its author is unknown, probably composed either during the Babylonian Exile or for the day of penance prescribed in Ezra 9:5-10.  One of the fifteen Gradual Psalms sung by Jewish pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, it's also one of the seven Penitential Psalms used by the early Christians. 

It has been frequently set to music, often as part of musical settings of the Requiem, by many composers including Bach; Charpentier; Dowland; Gabrieli; Gluck; Handel; Honegger; Hovhaness; Liszt; Mendelssohn; Mozart; Purcell; Schoenberg; Schütz and Rutter. 

Contemporary songwriter Ben Doggett works full time at Christ Our Shepherd Church, an inter-denominational congregation in Washington, DC; splitting his time between co-directing worship ministry, serving as a youth worker and supporting local outreach.  He heard a story about a navy chaplain who visited soldiers standing guard through the night on the front-lines of a battlefield.  He described the incredible tension, as a moving camel in the distance seemed so certainly to look like an enemy soldier, and as a twinkle of light would set the whole camp on alarm.  In the final hours of night, everyone was desperate to see the morning light, longing for the clarity of vision it would bring.  The following words from Psalm 130 became all the more real to the chaplain after this experience.

I wait for the Lord
More than watchmen wait for morning.

Ben just wrote this song last November, in response to a request for “hope songs”, and because this psalm has been one of his favorites for years.  He's been working on a CD for some time, which he hopes “will be finished soonish.”  To hear other songs, or to comment, critique, give words of encouragement or offer opinions; visit bendoggetmusic.blogspot.com.
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