The last verse of March 8’s psalm is beloved favorite and heard often, if not weekly, in Jewish and Christian worship. In the Anglican tradition, many preachers begin each sermon with “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts…” In temples and synagogues this psalm prayer is heard weekly in the Shabbat (“Sabbath”) Evening Service as part of the Amidah (“The Standing Prayer”), a series of prayers that close the service.
In 1930 Swiss-born American composer Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) wrote a choral setting of the Jewish liturgy, Avodath Hakodesh (The Sacred Service), which took some four years to complete and is now probably the most famous musical setting of the Jewish service. Bloch composed an instrumental “Silent Devotion” to be played just before his choral setting of “May the words” (“Response”). This sublime choral piece is the Communion anthem sung by the Parish Choir this morning.