song.

Many of my friends know my history with music. Being a “Suzuki kid,” my Walkman was typically blasting violin solos, concertos, practice tapes, etc. Not Top 40. Then there was that day on the school bus…

I LOVE rock ‘n roll! Put another dime in the jukebox baby….

The ENTIRE bus sang it at the top of their lungs. Except this one slightly geeky gal. She didn’t know the words. Bach Concerto in A minor for two violins. BRING IT. yeah, it was not fun. I went home crying to my mom that I had to listen to the radio. So it began. I listened to pleanty of radio tunes. Went to plenty of 80s concerts. (Air Supply, Rick Springfield, Wham, Chaka Khan, MJ{Thriller tour, I might add}, and on and on). But I didn’t find my own groove until I was on a trip to New Hampshire with, lo and behold, my violin group. I bunked with a friend, Kami, who had her trusty Walkman with her, too. I assumed it was her violin stuff. I grabbed hers for a second….and my world changed. REM. Murmur. Radio Free Europe. Next came U2.

Fast forward to 1987.  September of my Freshman year of High School. My best friend, Jill, and I went to see U2. Joshua Tree Tour. We went with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend. [pause for a moment. I was 14 people. And I went to a huge rock concert in Philadelphia with teenagers. yeah. 1980s.] It was the most exhilarating thing I had ever experienced. Many details stick out to me. The traffic down on the Schuykill. The excitement finding our seats. The massive crowd. Them appearing on stage. Then, near the end, Bruce Springsteen singing Stand By Me with them. But the most magical, gospel, hope-filled thing that happened that night was the encore. They came out and sang 40. The lyrics comprise part of Psalm 40, with their chorus added, “I will sing, sing a new song.” And then the refrain, “How long to sing this song?” This was echoed over and over until no musicians remained on the stage. Until the lights were on. Until we made it to our cars. Windows down on the drive home, you heard passengers passing by still singing, “how long to sing this song…”

This very well may have been the first time I heard any part of this psalm. But it stuck there in my head and heart. And there are many times I want to skip the psalmist’s words and just sing How long?, but then I would miss out on the remembering. I love the psalmist’s refrain:

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.

yes, I am, Lord, yes I am…

For fun, you can listen to the whole dang concert right here:

U2. JFK Stadium. Philadelphia. 1987.

and and here is the whole psalm…when you are weary and asking How long?
Psalm 40
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
4 Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
14 May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.

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2 thoughts on “song.

  1. I knew I knew you from somewhere! I was at that concert too! We drove down from Penn State and got caught in that Schuykill traffic. We ran from the parking lot to the stadium as U2 played “Where the Streets Have No Name”, laughing the whole way. We stared at the Grateful Dead followers who had stayed behind. We crammed onto the field. We squinted to see the band and Bono’s broken arm. Good times.

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