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Write your own Psalm

Q: How many country & western singers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Four. One to change it, one to sing about how heartbroken he is at the loss of the old one, one to sing about how madly in love she is with the new one, and one to go “Yeeeee-Hah !” and throw his hat in the air.
Q: How many punk-rock musicians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to screw in the bulb and the other to smash the old one on his forehead.

Human life is made up experiences of joy, love, hurt, delight, surprise, despair and so on. So often these experiences are expressed in poetry and music as a way of sharing, making sense or dealing with what has happened. Just like these jokes different styles of poetry and music treat life in different ways.

When it comes to God, who is the giver of all life, it is no surprise that He is a big part of poetry and music. This music is of praise to God as well as sharing faith with people. As Christians we find God through Jesus Christ and know that He is the one in whom everything is held together. He is our focus in poetry and music.
The Psalms are a poetry or song book in the bible. John Calvin said that they were an “anatomy of the soul expressing every facet of the cost and joy of life with God.”

This is why the Psalms have such great value for so many people. If people wrote the Psalms connecting their lives with God then we can do the same, for after all our lives have the full range of experiences and Jesus holds our living together.

Writing our own Psalms is a way, not to replace the bible but to bring it alive in our living.

Here are some ideas on how to write your own Psalm!

Psalms are in 3 main types:

Psalms of orientation – these are Psalms when life and faith are happy, settled, reliable and trustworthy and people are confident. In these Psalms nothing changes in the situation, they just tell it the way it is.

They are put together like this:
1. A summary of the way things are with God and people
2. A telling of how God makes a difference or people make choices in a practical situation
3. Praise and thanks to God

Psalm 1, 8 and Psalm 145 are examples.

Psalms of disorientation – these are psalms when life doesn’t add up; things have gone wrong, there is failure, uncertainty and suffering. These are songs of lament, protest or even complaint.

They are put together like this:
1. Speaking to God
2. A complaint or problem
3. A turning point – in spite of this we will, nevertheless
4. A request or call for help
5. A response of praise, trust and hope

Psalm 13, 32 and 88 are examples.

Psalms of Re-orientation – these are Psalms when life have gone through a tough time and come through to find a resolution, a new hope, new possibilities. These are songs of renewed confidence and a sense of being surprised by grace. They recognise that in life we cannot go back but we can look forward.

They are put together like this:

1. A call to praise; a call to God and a command for people to praise
2. A reason for praise – telling of the change and difference God has made
3. A new call to praise, to God and people, with this deeper appreciation

Psalm 23, 30 and 103 are examples

How to write your own Psalm in your own words:

1. Think of which of the three types you want to write.
2. Read one of the Psalms of this sort and see how the structure works in that Psalm. When you look for the structure some of the parts will be a number of verses, sometimes it will be just part of one verse!
3. Read these Psalms in at least two different versions to get a feel of how they come across in different styles

To write you own Psalm:

Think of telling a story about life and saying something about God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As you will see from the Psalms these don’t have to be long or complicated.
Don’t worry about the music: take this as a poem in your own style. Don’t be too worried about rhyming, consider that as a bonus.

4. Think of the experience you want to write about
5. Think of what you want to say about God
6. Now take the structure and write you own words

What to do with your Psalm:

Please e-mail it to – graham.brownlee.mbc@btconnect.com

We could use them in one of our prayer evenings or services.

We could publish them on the web.