{    Cnytr   }

{Wednesday, May 27, 2009  }

.:{Psalm 137}:.

Speaking of nationalistic hymns, I'm sure we're all familiar with Psalm 137 (sans the last two verses because we live in post-Vatican II times):

By the rivers of Babylon
there we sat and wept,
remembering Zion;
on the poplars that grew there
we hung up our harps.

For it was there that they asked us,
our captors, for songs,
our oppressors, for joy.
"Sing to us," they said,
"one of Zion's songs."

O how could we sing
the song of the Lord
on alien soil?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!

O let my tongue
cleave to my mouth
if I remember you not,
if I prize not Jerusalem
above all my joys!

This has itself been adapted and set musically again and again and again. It has been hymned by the Russians, the Ukrainians, it's been sung bluegrass style, gospel spiritual (which I sang in middle school but cannot find on youtube), and it has been covered by Sinead O'Connor and Don McClean, the latter's setting featuring on the hit tv show Mad Men.

However, in doing a search for the song featured in the post below, also called "Jerusalem", I found the following:

Yes. You are seeing a Hasidic Jew singing Reggae.

His name is Matisyahu, or Mathew Paul Miller. Originally born in PA, he settled in NY (for a time in a highly Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn) and now lives in White Plains. Although he sings mostly in English, he sprinkles his lyrics with Hebrew and Yiddish words.

While Jerusalem (Out of Darkness Comes Light) isn't a direct adaption of Psalm 137 (Matisyahu instead makes it about the modern plight of the Jews, referencing even the Holocaust), the refrain harkens back to it.

Matisyahu: both awesome and hilarious. You can't make this stuff up.
posted by Lauren, 8:39 AM


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