Like a Tree (Artful Devotion)

Blossoming Plum Tree by a River
Blossoming Plum Tree by a River, Japan, early 20th century. Color lithograph, 8.8 × 13.8 cm (3 7/16 × 5 7/16 in.). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

—Psalm 1:1–3

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.

—Jeremiah 17:7–8

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SONG: “I Shall Not Be Moved” | Negro spiritual, performed by Mississippi John Hurt (ca. 1892–1966), on The Best of Mississippi John Hurt | For a congregational hymn arrangement, see the African American Heritage Hymnal #479

Instead of the rough extroverted singing style and aggressive guitar playing that typified the other Delta legends, Hurt sang in a gentle, quiet voice and played intricate and often delicate guitar patterns. With a particular fondness for songsters that had blues leanings in their repertoires, like Leadbelly and Josh White, Hurt developed into an extraordinarily lyrical guitarist with a refined finger-picking style. His tender singing exuded a warmth unique to the blues genre, and the gospel influence so prominent in his music gave his songs a depth and reflective quality . . . [excerpted from a Paste magazine feature by Alan Bershaw]

For an even earlier recording of this song, from 1926, listen to the Taskiana Four.


This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your email or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.

To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, cycle B, click here.

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