Psalm/Psong for April 16 – “We Don’t Eat” by James Vincent McMorrow

I just heard this guy’s voice earlier this week. He reminds me a tiny bit of Ray LaMontagne, but less raspy. There are a number of videos of his performances on the Internet, but I really wanted to share with you the haunting quality of the recorded version of this psong. It starts out with just a drum and piano, and then his voice floats over the top of them.

One of the things I love about good art is that it leaves room for the readers/seers/listeners to bring our own layers of experience to it. So, for example, if you haven’t been sitting in a church for the past few weeks hearing the Revised Common Lectionary leading us toward Palm Sunday, your experience of this psong is probably very different from mine. And that’s as it should be.

In my case, this psong winds its way through ears that have heard–and in some cases endured–the Gospel stories of the past month, which have been pointing to Holy Week. So when the psong builds to its brief swell during the bridge and the last chorus–with drums and tambourines and strings joining the party–and then goes quickly quiet on one lone fading note, well, I hear Palm Sunday.

Lyrics to “We Don’t Eat”:

if this is redemption, why do i bother at all
there’s nothing to mention, and nothing has changed
still i’d rather be working for something than praying for the rain
so i wander on ‘til someone else is saved

i moved to the coast, under a mountain
swam in the ocean, slept on my own
at dawn i would watch the sun, cut ribbons through the bay
i’d remember all the things my mother wrote

that we don’t eat until your father’s at the table
we don’t drink until the devil’s turned to dust
never once has any man i’ve met been able to love
so if i were you i’d have a little trust

two thousand years, i’ve been in that water
two thousand years, sunk like a stone
desperately reaching for nets
that the fishermen have thrown
trying to find a little bit of rope

me i was holding all of my secrets soft and hid
pages were folded, then there was nothing at all
so if in the future i might need myself a saviour
i’ll remember what was written on that wall


am i an honest man and true
have i been good to you at all
oh i’m so tired of playing these games
we’d just be running down
the same old lines, the same old stories of
breathless trains and worn down glories,
houses burning, worlds that turn on their own

so we don’t eat until your father’s at the table
we don’t drink until the devil’s turned to dust
never once has any man i’ve met been able to love
so if i were you my friend i’d learn to have just a little bit of trust

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