Nature in all its diversity will sing to God. Such is the promise of Psalm 96, the “Monday psalm” of Kabbalat Shabbat. This Psalm calls on all the nations of the world to sing together God’s praise. The verses are a largely a collage of familiar lines, but the message is distinctive in its universal focus. The Psalmist uses an ancient poetic technique of a trifold repetition and familiar Biblical lines to enable a resonance of familiarity. Psalm 96 describes a future of justice and a natural world of vibrancy. Although Israel is never mentioned in the Psalm, the message is that the God of Israel is the God of all peoples.
This Psalm has been set to music by Handel, Mendelssohn, and is the foundation for “Joy to the World.” The following is a melody of the opening line, composed by Rabbi Shlomo Carelebach can be heard by clicking here.
Psalm 96 is dedicated to Professor Marvin Rosenberg.