Hebrew poetry for non-Hebrews

I find that, if I am going to try and write a psalm of praise and worship, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the poetic devices I have at my disposal. Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up from my research and experimentation.
Poetic devices not normally present in Hebrew poetry
  • meter
  • rhyme
Poetic devices used in Hebrew that do not normally survive translation
  • repetition of sounds -alliteration, assonance andparonomasia
  • acrostic
Poetic devices used in Hebrew that do translate well
  • Synonymous parallelism – second line repeats the first in different words having the same meaning
  • Antithetic parallelism – second line contrasts with the first
  • Synthetic parallelism –  second line adds to the first
  • Climactic parallelism – successive lines build to a climax or summary
  • Eclectic parallelism – combination of different types interwoven
  • Emphatic parallelism – synonymous words used for emphasis
  • Emblematic parallelism – literal statement is contrasted with a metaphor or a simile
  • External parallelism – syntactic units balance one another across multiple verses
  • Introverted parallelism – the order of the parallel elements is reversed (also known as chiasmus)

Praising God, wherever, whenever

I find that it’s important to have low tech ways of praising God. Ways that don’t require electricity or electronics or anything other than yourself and what you have with you.

Sometimes I take a more liturgical approach and experiment with praising God through ritual acts and poetry. Other times I take a more contemporary approach and experiment with praising God through unplugged song and prose. Many times I just praise God just through prayer, whether sitting, standing, or walking.

I find it’s important to experiment with praising God in the midst of everyday activity, not restricting the act to special times or places or being with special people. To free ourselves of the notion it’s a building based activity, that we can praise God anywhere, even outdoors. Maybe even especially outdoors.

How to hide Jesus

img_0414How to hide Jesus

There are people after Jesus.
They have seen the signs.
Quick, let’s hide Him.
Let’s think; carpenter,
fishermen’s friend,
disturber of religious comfort.
Let’s award Him a degree in theology,
a purple cassock
and a position of respect.
They’ll never think of looking here.
Let’s think;
His dialect may betray Him,
His tongue is of the masses.
Let’s teach Him Latin
and seventeenth century English,
they’ll never think of listening in.
Let’s think;
humble,
Man of Sorrows,
nowhere to lay His head.
We’ll build a house for Him,
somewhere away from the poor.
We’ll fill it with brass and silence.
It’s sure to throw them off.
There are people after Jesus.
Quick, let’s hide Him.

– Steve Turner

The Divine Image by William Blake

william_blake_frontispiece_songs_of_innocence

Songs of Innocence: The Divine Image

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every dime
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk, or jew;
Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

– William Blake