MLK and U2: How Long to Sing This Song

Posted January 15, 2014 @ 9:16am | by Tripp

I will say to the boasters, "Boast no more",
and to the wicked, "Do not toss your horns;
"Do not toss your horns so high,
nor speak with a proud neck."

From Psalm 75

How long, to sing this song?" cries Bono, lead vocalist of the band, U2, in their song "40."  I've got this song stuck in my head because the text for Sunday is Psalm 40. Here I sit working through some sermon ideas and Bono and the boys won't leave me alone.

Oh. Did I mention it's also Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday today? It is. We'll be speaking and praying for deliverance on Sunday at First Baptist, Palo Alto. 

This morning I'm setting Psalm 40 along side Psalm 75 which is one of the readings for the daily office. I was struck by the verse you see here.

There is a cry for justice, a cry for compassion, and a recognition of God's promise to be the judge of all. The psalmist reminds us that judgment does not come from the powers, from other people. Final judgment comes from God. Psalm 75 continues . . .

It is God who judges;
 he puts down one and lifts up another.
For in the Lord’s hand there is a cup,
   full of spiced and foaming wine, which he pours out,
 and all the wicked of the earth
   shall drink and drain the dregs.

What's compelling about setting 75 along side of 40 is that 40 is that cry of release from what oppresses. It reminds me that release may be long coming. We may have to sing songs of release, lament. . . there is a song of the oppressed, of the downtrodden. "How long to sing this song?" 



I have so many questions right now that need to go unanswered for a bit yet. I would love to know what this video says to you about the psalm and the sentiment of both it and U2's performance. It is well known that U2 were heavily influenced by the work and the writing of Dr. King. "Pride (In The Name of Love)" is directly inspired by him and "MLK" is another homage.

From the YouTube chanel linked to "MLK":

According to Bono: "MLK" has been written "as sort of a lullaby for an idea that was dying in our country: the idea of non-violence... All inspired by a black reverend from Atlanta who refused to hate because he thought love would do a better job." (from "In the Name of Love: King's Legacy Lives On" by Michelle Watson, The Daily Journal, January 24, 2004) 

The connection is sincere. 

So, I'm pondering it all. 

Psalm 75 concludes: 

But I will rejoice for ever;*
 I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
He shall break off all the horns of the wicked;
 but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Y'all be good. I'll see you around.

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