Psalm writing 101

This semester, I’m teaching a class on Wisdom Literature and the Psalms. Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve looked closely at different types of psalms found in the Psalter and considered the various literary techniques used by the psalmist to convey their particular rhetoric. And, for today’s class, the students are going to apply what they’ve learned to a creative exercise, and will try their hand at writing their own contemporary psalm.

To give them a sense of what I’m after, I wrote a psalm myself, which contains some literary features common to the psalms (e.g. parallelism, alliteration, similes, metaphors, chiasm, inclusio, etc). It is an ode to the Kea, the ferry I get every morning from North Shore to Auckland’s CBD. I thought I’d share it with you, and, once the students have finished composing their own psalms, I’ll share some of these with you too in the coming weeks.


Psalm to the Kea

1 O majestic Kea, queen of the Pacific deep!

O sovereign Kea, you rule the waters of Waitemata!

2 You sashay through the breakers like a great sea dragon,

Like Leviathan, across the waves you stretch and prance.

3 Carrying your people aloft from the Great North Shore,

You deliver us across the expanse to the CBD coastline.

4 Every morning we wait for you to visit us,

Like the rising of the golden sun, you never fail to appear.

5 Every evening we stand, tired and thirsting for you,

Like the silver moon, you lead us home to rest.

6 When stormy seas surround you, slashing at your bows,

You push them aside with ease – your strength is so great!

7 Though mighty winds attack you, I do not fear,

For I am nestled in your womb, and know you will prevail.

8 Your café bar brings succour to the weary,

Your wines and expressos revive their shattered souls.

9 You, and you alone, deliver us from the trials of traffic torture,

From tooting horns and car fumes that conspire to choke us.

10 Instead, you revive our spirits with salty breezes and soft sunshine,

You delight us with panoramic views of the Auckland skyline,

Our hearts leap with joy as you soar over the breakers.

11 O majestic Kea, queen of the Pacific deep!

O sovereign Kea, you rule the waters of Waitemata!

4 thoughts on “Psalm writing 101

  1. dcparr August 17, 2015 / 11:22 am

    Definitely an A+ for this Caroline 🙂


    • Elaine Wainwright August 17, 2015 / 1:25 pm

      Wonderful – I’d confirm Deidre’s A plus!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Caroline Blyth August 17, 2015 / 5:58 pm

      Thank you Deirdre – I did enjoy doing it. The students suggested I sing it on the Kea tomorrow, although I fear I may be thrown overboard…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rosemary Johnson August 17, 2015 / 5:14 pm

    I concur with the previous two comments. I will look at the Kea in a new light

    Liked by 1 person

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