Psalm 103, the “Creation Psalm”, is chanted at Vespers in the Byzantine rite. It is a profound meditation on the relationship of God, man and the created world; it encapsulates the cosmological vision of the Orthodox Church in theological poetry – or, to put it another way, poetic theology.
The aims of the Psalm 103 Project are very close to my heart. They bring together the great tradition of Christian psalm singing, as found in the Orthodox Church, and a vital vision of creative energy, recognizing the diversity of musical traditions in the Church and encouraging their continuation and renewal. All of the composers involved in the project have demonstrated their profound understanding of this reality; as the Psalm itself says, “I shall sing to the Lord while I live; I shall chant to my God while I exist.”
Singing is a communal act, something that involves people, and this central aim of the Psalm 103 Project, set up by the St John of Damascus Society, is a means to bring to a wide audience the way in which the Church understands the cosmos, the way in which science and faith may be understood as integral and intertwined, rather than opposed to each other, as is so often the contemporary perception. In addition, the involvement of the acclaimed ensemble Cappella Romana, whose contribution to the dissemination of Orthodox church music of all periods, from the Middle Ages to the present day, having established a unique and international following, underlines the transversal nature of the project.
So a genuinely exciting artistic project to celebrate the art of the cosmos, as it were, has been set in motion. “How magnified are your works, O Lord. In wisdom have You made them all, and the earth has been filled with your creation.”