Today’s Psalms is all about singing the Lord’s praise and asking for his help.
We do this through word and music; through psalms and scripture readings; using ancient texts newly-translated and new texts often based on ancient themes.
We have several aims in Today’s Psalms. One is to create a new translation of the psalms which David wrote 2,500 years ago. They still tell the same story about humans and their relationship with God and his world; our intention is to set it in modern – but not childish or naive – language and to relate the ancient concepts to our lives.
For instance, some of specific people or nations in the psalms are little known nowadays, but the original psalm-writer mentioned them for a reason. So we sometimes refer to them by their description, rather than by name.
This can also mean updating some of the terms. David was used to hand-to-hand fighting, so the term ‘enemy’ meant something personal. We therefore often change the term to ‘those who oppose me’. You may think that we are “dumbing down”; we, however, live in a world which probably has fewer personal dangers (fewer swords, vipers and wild animals) but more complicated and closely-observed lives (the psalms never mention double-parking or tax avoidance schemes, but they are real things in the 21st century).
However, the fundamentals remain: God loves, we sin and require his mercy, there is competition for money, power and pre-eminence, and the humble are doing God’s will. We will never change these meanings in the psalms.
Alongside the traditional psalms are our modern, short interpretations. Usually referred to in our daily services as ‘Opening antiphons’, it’s not a huge coincidence that they are about the same length as the maximum allowable Tweet size. For their content, we try to integrate the ancient and the modern – 21st century lives and 5th century BCE lives mingle; modern learning about the universe and quantum realities mix with ancient truths about humankind’s needs and wants.