Psalms & Songs
The melodies for these psalms were borne somewhat out of necessity. In the fall of 1984, Fr. Bob Bedard - a longtime personal friend - asked me to oversee the music and worship at the parish he'd just been appointed to as pastor; St. Mary's in Ottawa. Within months of his arrival the Lord began a work of remarkable renewal in the lives of the existing parishioners and the many visitors who came to check it out.
In those early days Fr. Bob was preaching and I was leading worship every Sunday. The Lord's anointing (that experiential sense of His presence) was felt by everyone throughout the liturgy, but especially during Fr. Bob's preaching and through our group's music.
Playing and singing every week presented me with a bit of a challenge, since I don't have any formal musical training and don't read music. Providentially, some years earlier I'd been mentored by a very gifted and prayerful guitarist and songwriter (Tim Kehoe). I endeavoured to follow his model of praying for and trusting I'd be given inspiration to compose simple melodies for the responsorial psalms. The Lord was incredibly faithful in providing that inspiration.
The psalms and songs below are fruit of that season of prayer and ministry. The melodies are simple, but the words - all of them taken from Scripture and therefore inspired by the Holy Spirit - are inspiring, encouraging, uplifting and profound. The videos that accompany them are also simple, the focus being the songs, not the videos. Our hope is that they may serve as a vehicle to enable you to praise and worship the Lord as well as to receive from His bountiful mercy.
(Click on the images below to hear the songs and view the lyrics)
The Lord is My Light and My Salvation:
This is without doubt one of my personal favourite of all the psalms. It makes a bold declaration of faith in the midst of warfare (vs. 3), yet also gives voice to a beautiful expression of the heart's cry for intimacy with the Lord (vs. 8-9). Its closing verse is among the most beautiful and faith-building of all the psalms, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord!"
This is the first and only song that I've ever written on my own. I wrote it in one sitting in December of 1998, on the eve of the Year of the Father, leading up to the Great Jubilee 2000. I felt we needed a song directed to the Father. The words of the doxology immediately came to mind and formed the chorus. I then thought of some of my favourite verses of scripture and they all seemed to just fall into place by themselves. What a grace!
Taste and See:
I love the refrain and joyful feel of this psalm. The notes in my Bible explain that to "taste and see" means to "know by experience" the goodness of the Lord! Isn't that what first brought us to the Lord and what we still all long for? ...to taste the goodness of the Lord ever more deeply!
The Lord is Near:
Strictly speaking this isn't a responsorial psalm, but these lyrics are drawn from Psalm 145. When I composed this I heard two distinct melodies. Since the parishioners at St. Mary's were so wholehearted in their singing I taught the lower melody to the men and the higher main melody to the women. They picked it up right away. It was amazing and beautiful to hear an entire congregation sing in parts. We have yet to hear that in any other parish.
Jesus, We Trust in You:
This song is the result of a collaboration with Matt Devine, Fr. Tim's brother. While visiting with his family he played the chorus for me - which he'd already composed - and asked if I had any ideas for some verses. I began playing along with him and within minutes a melody and words came to me. Matt came up with the bridge. It was a hit from the very first time we played it in public. I still think it's one of the best "Divine Mercy" songs out there.