This is part of the Bible Poetry project. You can click here to see the synopsis of the project.
My first psalm of lament was 13. I find this particular lament easier to read because it does not dwell on any kind of revenge or retribution to be visited against the wicked, or those who would seem to be the source of the singer’s trouble. That is one aspect that I struggle with in certain psalms of lament (*cough 137 cough*).
Psalm 13 shares its key theme with most other psalms of lament as well as the book of Lamentation: God’s apparent absence. This is the focus of my re-interpretation and is manifested in part by deliberate use of space. The sequences are short to allow for deliberate breaks and pauses, or absences which in themselves would ask “How long oh Lord, will you forget me forever?”
Stylistically I also believe that hip hop and rap have more to offer to the psalms of lament than other musical genres, precisely because it grew out of suffering, specifically urban suffering. While most of the songs I can think of that would offer some tone and style to Psalm 13, I’m actually drawn to Burn, from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical Hamilton which links a tight rhyme scheme and long musical phrases. The combination allows for the heartbreak and devastation to communicate through the tone and the language in a way that is singularly powerful.
The world has no right to my head/ The world has no place in our bed/ they don’t get to know what I said/ I’m burning the memories.
I would also like to add here, that much of what I write in lamentations has been impacted by images coming out of Syria and its neighbors: the destruction of Aleppo, child victims, and refugees. It lends a certain weight to the cry of the heart to God. The cry that screams “How long oh Lord?”