This is another installment in my series on modern psalms. And I will continue to seek them out.
Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve my hands to learn
—Mumford & Sons
In my continuing search for the sacred in the midst of the secular, the new Mumford and Sons album delivers most satisfyingly. I have observed that psalms continue to be written in the 21st Century. They may be psalms of lament, or psalms of joy, or psalms of prayer. To me, Below My Feet is a psalm of prayer, a psalm of hope in the midst of being lost.
Keep me grounded. Keep me established, and do not let me sink into deep holes. Keep me from slipping and stumbling along the way.
I am weak. I have tried to do much more than I can. I am worn and weary from working so hard in the midst of every day going in and coming out.
Teach me, let me learn from the path I have taken. Let what I have done not be for waste, but for the instruction of your principles. (and I would have said precepts… but I think that’s only a “bible word.”)
From my doing let me learn. and through what I see, keep me in service to you.
As a prayer, it is very honest, and open. As a song, it fills me with joy. As a psalm, it is filled with trust in a promise.
It is art, it is poetry. For that, it is left up to the reader or listener to determine the meaning to himself or herself.
To me, it is a psalm, in the midst of the explosion of psalms that I have heard coming out of artists and composers and writers in the last few years. We are hungry for something. We are looking for something, and it seems that in some ways, there is no legitimate answer being offered. Mumford and Sons is not a Christian band. They have not presented their music to a Christian audience. They use explicit language in their songs, not excessively, but where it makes sense. Their explicit language intensifies the lyrics as other, more mundane or acceptable words could not do.
And yet, as a folk rock band from London, Mumford and Sons has managed to write music that speaks to my spirit, and the spirit of many others. My FaceBook feed in the last week and a half has been littered with lyrics from the new album, Babel. Their single, I Will Wait, that released before the album, brought me to tears nearly every time I heard it, in part because of the introduction that I had to it that Cathleen Falsani wrote in August.
And we listen, because we are hungry. The words of our 21st Century artists are becoming our psalms. Our cries of lament and our prayers for peace spread across the world, and it seems that the Church has shut her ears.
While the Church cries out because the Mainline is shrinking, my generation cries out that the Mainline has ceased to respond to its needs, hungers, and dreams. The Kingdom of God is not in the budget. It should be. The work for the Kingdom of God should be the driving impetus for every single action of the Church. Unfortunately, the Church has become famous for petty infighting and exclusion of the least, the last and the lost.
I suppose, that this is my lament. And this is why Below My Feet speaks to me so deeply. Because in it, I find the hope that is set deep, unshakable, in the midst of what seems to be utter lostness. Yes, I find that also in Scriptures, and in the presence of God around me, but I do not presume to limit where God may speak.