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Yearning for You
Psalms and the Song of Songs in Conversation with Rock and Worship Songs
William Goodman

‘From your lips she drew the Hallelujah’ (Leonard Cohen). Romance and sexual desire are expressed in some of today’s most popular songs using religious language. Conversely, the latest Christian worship songs sometimes invite worshippers to speak to God in the language of desire and romance. Contemporary western culture and spirituality blur the boundaries between desire for God and sexual desire.

This innovative book stages a conversation first between biblical songs and then between biblical and contemporary songs. Desire for intimacy is the topic of conversation. Texts from the Song of Songs are first in dialogue with some of the Psalms, exploring their themes of desire, absence, longing, hearing, delight, feasting, physicality, mutuality and security. The circle of conversation is then widened, to consider the voices of contemporary rock and worship songs in the light of what has been uncovered in the biblical songs, and to hear what questions today’s songs may ask of the ancient texts.

The biblical voices resist any suggestion, Goodman argues, that human sexual experience may be a means of encounter with God, or a sacrament of such an encounter. They also highlight the disparity in power between God and human beings which weighs against any sense of a balanced mutuality in yearning. Yet eros or romance may serve as a metaphor for a divine–human relationship, if used alongside a variety of other metaphors. At points of intersection, where they converge and conflict, these different metaphors can create a deeper understanding of the yearning for intimacy, both human and divine.

P.W. (Bill) Goodman is an independent scholar, teacher and clergyman, living in Leicestershire, UK.

Series: Bible in the Modern World, 46
978-1-907534-61-4 hardback
Publication September 2012

Prelude. ‘From your Lips She Drew the Halleluiah’

1. ‘Let There Be Love’: Yearning for You in Contemporary Music

2. ‘Let Him Kiss Me…Having You, I Desire Nothing Else’: Yearning
for You in the History of Interpretation of the Psalms and the
Song of Songs

3. ‘My God … my Beloved’: Yearning for You in the Psalms and
Song of Songs

4. ‘My Soul Thirsts for You…You Elevate my Soul’: All the Voices, Contemporary and Biblical, in Conversation about Yearning for You

Finale. ‘You’ve Got the Love I Need to See Me Through’