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The Hobbit & The Psalms

My boys and I really enjoyed the recent Hobbit movie. We expected to enjoy it with adventure, fun characters, nobility, courage, perseverance, loyalty- what’s not to like? But I found myself captivated by a certain scene in a way I did not expect. And later I discovered it captivated my boys as well. I am referring to the scene with the song of the dwarves.

I was taken with the robust singing of male voices and the sense that this was a song of a people, one that had been passed down and which told their story, where they had been and where they were going. In singing this song the dwarves reminded themselves of their identity and embraced it anew. They also steeled themselves for their difficult task as the song called them to their duty. The song placed their lives in continuity with the past, calling them to play their part in the history of their people. The song reminded them of a kingdom lost and their duty to reclaim it. I was mesmerized. We bought the soundtrack, and as I listened to it I found myself thinking, “I wish my family had a song like this.”

Then it hit me- We do have songs like this. Not the Van Nestes, not even TN nor the US (though we have national songs as well), but the church. The church has songs which have been passed down through the generations which tell of our past, victories & defeats, which remind us of our identity & remind us of our task and where we are going. These songs are the Psalms. The Psalms retell the history of our people, the people of God, and remind us of the kingdom that was lost due to a dragon’s destruction. They remind us of our role in obedience to the true King who has come and will return to destroy the dragon and re-establish his kingdom. In singing these songs we steel ourselves for the difficult road ahead, and we reaffirm our identity as God’s people as we take up the songs of our forefathers. With these songs we also internalize these truths and shape our characters so that we might be faithful and honor our King.

Let us sing!

3 Comments

  1. Scott says:

    “I was taken with the robust singing of male voices and the sense that this was a song of a people, one that had been passed down and which told their story, where they had been and where they were going.”

    This is one of my favorite things about Together for the Gospel.

  2. Ross Guthrie says:

    You’re eat up with singing the psalms Ray! Very fun on Friday night. Never thought i’d sit in a room full of southern baptists chanting a couple of psalms to gregorian chant. may have opened us up to some stuff we’ve been wanting to do at CCC. Bless you for your boldness and perseverance.

  3. Its interesting… J. R. R. Tolkien in one of his letters admits the Dwarves are partially based on the Jewish people (and also partially based on Germanic folktales). There are certainly elements of Hebrew-esque sounds in some of the Dwarven words and names. The journey of Thorin and Co. to reclaim their homeland (promised land) which they lost to a Dragon is dripping with biblical imagery, and of course there are 13 dwarves (just one more in number than the 12 tribes of Israel). Tolkien also mentions a connection between Numenor and Judaism (Numenor has a monotheistic society and worships on one mountain). Fun stuff to think about, though how far Tolkien intended the imagery to go is uncertain.

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