Archive for the ‘Psalms of Protest’ Category

 

Columbine, Again and Again

Posted on: February 15th, 2023 by Alden No Comments

In memorium for those who lost their lives at Michigan State University, and to all who were wounded physically or emotionally, I’ve added the school to “A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13.” Here is a three-prayer liturgy also including “After Uvalde: The Court of the Innocent” and “After a Deadly Rampage.”

A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13
A dream of Columbine High School,
When the U.S. was beset by guns.
Red with blood,
A dream of Thurston High, Red Lake High, Virginia Tech, and Michigan State University,
Wet with tears,
A nightmare of Sandy Hook and Robb Elementary.
A lament of guns and death,
At NIU, Marshall County High, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Santa Fe High and Saugus High.
Crying out
With so many others,
Too many dead,
So many wounded and scarred.
Crying out,
O Columbine!
How long? How long? How long?

After Uvalde: The Court of the Innocent
The court of the innocent
At the gates of heaven
Is twenty-one souls larger today.
Two adults and nineteen children shot dead.
They bring their blood as evidence against us,
As evidence of our failure to protect them
And the impotence of our rage.

The court of the innocent
At the gates of heaven
Have stopped listening to our speeches.
They no longer say ‘amen’ to our prayers.
They have turned their backs to us,
As we have turned our backs to them.

The court of the innocent
At the gates of heaven
Minister to the souls of the newly murdered,
They minister to those cut down
By guns and violence,
By politics and inaction,
Tending to these recent companions in death,
Consoling their lifeless hearts.

After a Deadly Rampage
Author of life
Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under Your tabernacle of peace
To the victims of the massacre
At Michigan State University,
Whose lives were cut off by violence,
A rampage of aggression beyond understanding.
Their hopes were severed.
Their dreams were lost to brutality.
May their souls be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.
May they rest in peace.

G-d of justice and mercy,
Remember, too, the survivors of this attack,
Witnesses of shock, horror and dismay.
Ease their suffering and release their trauma
So that they recover lives of joy and wonder.
Grant them Your shelter and solace,
Blessing and renewal.
Grant them endurance to survive,
Strength to rebuild,
Faith to mourn,
And courage to heal.

Remember the families and friends
Of the dead and the wounded.
With comfort and consolation.
Grant them Your protection,
Your wholeness and healing.
May they find hope and renewal.

Heavenly Guide,
Source of love and shelter,
Put an end to anger, hatred and fear
And lead us to a time when
No one will suffer at the hand of another,
Speedily, in our day.

© 2012, 2022, and 2023 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: See also “Against Gun Violence.”

Please check out These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah and my other CCAR Press volumes: This Grateful Heart, This Joyous Soul, and This Precious Life, which can also be purchased as the Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter. For a taste of my teaching, see my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

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Two Reproductive Freedom Prayers

Posted on: June 14th, 2022 by Alden No Comments

Here are two new social justice prayers, written as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strip away reproductive rights. The first is written in a ‘classic’ prayer format, while the second is one of my “Psalms of Protest.”

Addendum: On 24 June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The Right to Choose
One day,
On the day the world is perfected,
Rape, incest, and all violence
Will vanish from the earth.
On that day,
Medical science will have safe and effective answers
To every risk of pregnancy,
And only those willing and able to raise a child–
Physically, spiritually, financially, emotionally –
Will become pregnant.
On the day the world is perfected,
Every pregnancy will result
From the holy desire to bring forth life
And to raise children,
Without fear of medical or personal consequences.

Until that day,
God of justice,
Defend and protect
Reproductive freedom
In the US and throughout the world.
Grant those who face this profound decision
Wisdom and strength.
Surround them with loving support
And caring professionals.
Guard them, their caregivers, and clinics,
Against verbal violence and physical attack.
Let no court and no politician
Stand in the way
Of the right to choose.

Reproductive Freedom: Psalm of Protest 20
A psalm of protest,
Sung on earth
Before the gates of government.

Thunder, you heavens,
Quake, you earth,
At the rise of injustice
And the return of oppression
By the self-righteous and the arrogant,
Attacking reproductive rights
From the halls of power,
Stripping away hard-won freedoms,
Stripping away protection
For self-determination and medical justice.

We remember
Every sister
Who bled out in a fever
In a filthy backroom,
Abandoned by society,
With no rights
And no choices.

Bear witness, you mountains,
To murder
By the denial of choice.

Give testimony, you seas,
Against those who would threaten,
Subvert, limit, and seek to control
The rights of others.

Rise up, you of faith and conscience,
In the name of liberty,
In the name of justice,
In the name of choice.

“The Right to Choose” and “Reproductive Freedom: Psalm of Protest 20” are © 2022 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Joyous Soul, This Grateful Heart, and This Precious Life. Here’s a link to my ELItalk, “Falling in Love with Prayer..” For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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She Will Overcome: Psalm of Protest 19

Posted on: March 22nd, 2022 by Alden No Comments

This is a psalm of protest in support of the confirmation of U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s a link to my other psalms of protest.

She Will Overcome: Psalm of Protest 19
O Hypocrisy,
You are shameless, unscrupulous,
Hiding hatred under a cloak
Of disingenuous inquiry and false sincerity.

O Justice,
When will you be blind
To race and gender.

O Equality,
When will the content of our human character
Summon our hearts to each other.

O Truth,
We have so much left to do
To bring equity and equanimity to this world.

O Hypocrisy,
You will not live unchallenged.
We will show you,
Again and again,
One intelligent, educated, powerful
Black woman after another,
Not expecting to release your hardened heart,
Simply knowing that, one day,
She will overcome.

© 2022 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.

Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Joyous Soul, This Grateful Heart, and This Precious Life. Here’s a link to my ELItalk, “Falling in Love with Prayer.” For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing.

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We Will Be Heard: Psalm of Protest 18

Posted on: June 25th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

This Psalm of Protest was first posted here as part of my three-prayer Liturgy for Inauguration Day 2017. With a few new lines and several other changes, it’s now Psalm of Protest 18. It can be read with “Strangled by Police: Psalm of Protest 17.”

We Will Be Heard: Psalm of Protest 18
Today,
I am an immigrant,
A drag queen,
A rape survivor,
An African Methodist Church set on fire,
A mosque pelted with rocks,
A synagogue painted with hate.
I am disabled,
A woman paid half of a salary,
A Black man strangled by police.
I am Asian, Latino, Hispanic,
Native American and Multi-Racial.

Yes,
We pray for wisdom and grace
To land like a miracle
On the President,
Transforming his rhetoric of hostility and violence
Into deeds of compassion and love.
But we will not stand silent in shock and fear
Waiting idly as our rights are trampled in public
And repealed in law.

We will count the lies and the slanders.
We will protest in the streets and gather in the polling places.
We haven’t forgotten the lynchings,
The darkness of the closet,
The death by back-alley abortion.

Today,
I am Roe v. Wade,
Obergefell v. Hodges,
Brown v. Board of Education,
The child of slaves,
The child of illegals,
The child of gay parents,
The child of a vision for freedom
And the yearning for inclusion
Neglected and rejected by those in power.

Today I am an American,
A citizen of the United States,
A child of democracy,
A patriot,
Dedicated to justice,
Dedicated to liberty,
Dedicated to action,
Demanding to be heard.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: Here’s a link to all of my Psalms of Protest.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Buffalo News

Strangled by Police: Psalm of Protest 17

Posted on: May 29th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

This Psalm of Protest is in memory of George Floyd, killed by police in Minneapolis. With a knee on his neck, the officer pinned the unarmed and handcuffed Floyd to the ground as he pleaded for help.  This is a prayer against brutality, abuse of power and racism. I’m not anti-police, and have written several prayers for police and first responders. But be clear: no one should die in police custody. And systemic racism must end. Period. See also “For George Floyd’s Family.” Here are all of my Psalms of Protest.

Strangled by Police: Psalm of Protest 17
A psalm of protest,
In memory of George Floyd,
Sung at the gates of justice,
When black men are strangled in the streets,
When power is abused and jails overflow,
When the voiceless are forgotten and minorities misused.
Open, you gates!
Open to the cries of those murdered, jailed or harassed
For being black,
For being a person of color,
For being homeless, indigent, destitute or unwanted,
The detained, the hounded,
The pursued and the persecuted,
Those who are killed while being restrained.
Open, you gates!
Let righteousness flow forth as living waters,
And truth flow forth as healing balm,
To still the hand of violence and hatred,
To cure the heart of bigotry and racism,
To herald fairness and equality,
And bring justice to this land.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: See also: “For George Floyd’s Family,“O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14,” “A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13,” and “Sing with Liberty: Psalm of Protest 15.” All of my Psalms of Protest can be found here.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: The New York Times

For Whistleblowers and Watchdogs: Psalm of Protest 16

Posted on: October 4th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

Here’s a new Psalm of Protest celebrating the role of watchdogs and whistleblowers in defending democratic ideals and institutions. See also: “Sing with Liberty: Psalm of Protest 15.

For Whistleblowers and Watchdogs: Psalm of Protest 16
A psalm of protest,
Sung at the gates of truth,
When senators and spokesmen
Attempt to swindle the truth with lies,
When lawyers and presidents
Attempt to swindle the treasury
And hijack elections.
Open you gates!
Open to the call of the watchdog,
The vigilant and the whistleblower,
Open to the call of special investigators and ombudsmen,
Who serve veracity in the name of the people,
Who serve honesty in the name of the law.
Open you gates!
Let truth flow forth like living waters
To cleanse regimes of fraudulent leaders.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: See also O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14” and “A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Sing with Liberty

Posted on: August 14th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

This prayer/song is based on “New Colossus,” the sonnet by Emma Lazarus appearing on a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Those familiar with the sonnet will recognize the images and phrases reflected here. It’s offered as an antidote to the attempted hijacking of the message of the Lazarus poem. Here’s another prayer/poem based on “New Colussus,” called “Against Detaining Children.” 

Sing with Liberty: Psalm of Protest 15
Sing with Liberty,
For the Mother of Exiles weeps at our sunset gates,
Weeps for her battered proclamation
Twisted to shut our sea-washed shores
To the innocent
Fleeing violence and deprivation.

Sing with Liberty,
For we too were once among the tired and the poor,
Our parents and grandparents
Were the huddled masses
Journeying to a land where they could breathe free.

Sing with Liberty,
Sing with Emma,
Sing with the generations,
The wretched refuse
Washed upon our teeming shores,
Who built this nation,
Who hold us accountable to defend our legacy.

Sing with Liberty,
For from her beacon-hand
Still glows a world-wide welcome,
Flickering now,
But not yet extinguished.
And we will continue to sing with Liberty
The song of freedom,
Beckoning the homeless,
The tempest-tost,
To the lamp at our golden door.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com

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Postscript: See also: “O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14,” “#MeToo, No More: Psalm of Protest 11,” “A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13,” “Voter Suppression: Psalm of Protest 12,” as well as “Psalms of Protest 1, 2 and 3,” Psalms of Protest 4, 5 and 6” and “Psalms of Protest 7-10.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14

Posted on: July 4th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

A Psalm of Protest for U.S. Independence Day 2019. It’s the 14th in a series of social protest prayers using the voice of the Psalmist. See also: “#MeToo, No More: Psalm of Protest 11,” “A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13,” “Voter Suppression: Psalm of Protest 12,” as well as “Psalms of Protest 1, 2 and 3,” Psalms of Protest 4, 5 and 6” and “Psalms of Protest 7-10.”

O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14
A psalm of protest.
For guitar and drum.
O freedom.
O justice.
That tyrants can’t deny.
O freedom.
O justice.
This is our rally cry.
Let all who love this country,
Let all who love this land,
Stand up and shout with power,
Injustice will not stand.
Be strong against the hatred.
Be strong against deceit.
Organize to fight the cause
And never dare retreat.
Come sisters, now, come brothers,
Come join, come heed this call.
And we will fight together,
For freedom, one and all.
O freedom.
O justice.
That tyrants can’t deny.
O freedom.
O justice.
This is our rally cry.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: See also: “Against Detaining Children,” “Against Tyranny” and “Domestic Insurrections.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13

Posted on: February 2nd, 2019 by Alden No Comments

The massacre at Columbine High school took place more than 20 years ago. And still, we have school shooting after school shooting. This Psalm of Protest, listing school shootings, imagines that those schools stand as witness against all gun violence, as witness against all mass murder. See also, “Against Gun Violence” and “In Memorium: Sandy Hook.”

Addendum: Written in 2019, this has been updated on May 25, 2022, to include Robb Elementary School, Uvalde, Texas.

A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13
A dream of Columbine High School,
When the U.S. was beset by guns.
Red with blood,
A dream of Thurston High, Red Lake High and Virginia Tech.
Wet with tears,
A nightmare of Sandy Hook and Robb Elementary.
A lament of guns and death,
At NIU, Marshall County High, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Santa Fe High and Saugus High.
Crying out
With so many others,
Too many dead,
So many wounded and scarred.
Crying out,
O Columbine!
How long? How long? How long?

© 2022 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: See also: “Psalms of Protest 1, and 3,” Psalms of Protest 4, 5 and 6,” “Psalms of Protest 7-10,” “#MeToo, No More: Psalm of Protest 11” and “Psalm of Protest 12.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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Psalms of Protest: 1, 2 and 3

Posted on: July 1st, 2018 by Alden No Comments

The first three of a new series, “Psalms of Protest.” In both of my countries, Israel and the United States, self-interested governments attack democracy and decency. These Psalms of Protest combine the unique form and language of the Psalmist with the prophetic voice crying out for justice. Psalms often build upon one another, expanding or focusing a theme, which is true for this series, as well. As a result, I plan to post these works in groups.

Children, Detained: Psalm of Protest 1
A psalm of protest,
When children are stripped from their parents’ arms,
When refugees are jailed as criminals.
How long, G-d of justice?
How long will arrogance strike with impunity,
Attacking the heart of innocence?
They are like ten-thousand bees stinging the eyes,
Relentless with violence.
They are like ten-thousand nettles piercing the skin,
Relentless with hatred and without remorse.
Let the arrogant be brought low.
Let the wicked repent.
Let righteousness heal these wounds
And set the captives free.

Free the Captive: Psalm of Protest 2
A psalm of protest,
When tyranny mocks justice,
And the halls of power are painted with bitterness.
Let the righteous rail against cruelty and deceit
So that their voices echo across the land,
So that their footsteps shake the foundations of contempt,
So that their deeds unseat wickedness from the chambers of power.
The land will tremble, the seas will shake,
The heavens will thunder, while the winds split the sky,
Demanding release of the captive
And due process for the enslaved.
Demanding honesty and truth
From governments and leaders,
So that G-d’s word will shine
Even in the hardest hearts of our leaders.

When a New Pharaoh Arises: Psalm of Protest 3
A psalm of memory,
When a new Pharaoh arises.
Do you remember how Pharaoh despised the children?
How he commanded that they be ripped from their mother’s arms and destroyed?
How he used babes to subjugate a people and undo a nation?
Remember, too, how a few brave midwives subverted Pharaoh’s plans.
Remember, too, how arduous is the work of freedom.
For Pharaoh has a heart of stone,
And he hardens the hearts of all who serve him
With treachery and deceit,
With fear and disdain.
But you have a heart of flesh,
And the spirit of G-d’s justice,
To be like Moses and Miriam,
Like Aaron and Joshua,
Like Shifra and Puah,
To unseat the reign of tyranny.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

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Postscript: These Psalms are a break from my general approach of staying apolitical in writing prayers. Less than 20 of my 700 pieces of liturgy reflect explicit political views, and most of those have been written since the previous U.S. presidential election. I suspect, that I’ll lose some readers as a result of posting these pieces. It is a writer’s job to speak out.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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