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"We can write sexy songs and spiritual songs — and songs that are both. We can write anything we want — and get away with it." — Bono

Bono Brings a Bit Of Finglas to Flathead Lake in New Film about the Psalms

Image result for bono and eugene peterson the psalms
Photo credit: Taylor Martyn

Bono and Eugene Peterson met in person for only the second time in their lives on April 19, 2015, though their friendship has been long in the making. They met in Peterson's home in Montana, on the edge of Flathead Lake, to talk about their mutual interest in the Psalms, the quality of honesty in life and art, and to continue on a journey of friendship. David Taylor brought them together with the help of some friends. With filmmaker Nathan Clarke, Taylor produced Bono & Eugene Peterson: The Psalms, a 20-minute film for Fuller Studio. 

Taylor told me that although Bono was "frightfully intelligent when it came to the matter of the Psalms," all throughout the afternoon "he seemed utterly at home with the Petersons." He was generous and appreciative of every person in the room, "without any need to assume a persona." As Bono left to return to Vancouver, where U2 was in rehearsals for the start of the Innocence + Experience tour, "he hugged Eugene and [his wife] Jan, and he kissed my wife on the cheek."

Taylor said thinks the film might help those who were at once of U2's concerts in 2015, "understand why U2 rains down on their audiences fragments from the Psalms that are taken from Eugene’s translation, The Message."

A fragment of the Psalms collected from one of U2's Innocence + Experience concerts in 2015. Photo credit: Tim Neufeld.

Bono's interest in the Psalms goes way back, of course, as does his love for Peterson's The Message. Staff writers for @U2 have reported previously on Bono's interest in Peterson and about Peterson's interest in Bono.

But because of Taylor's new film, we now know Bono's experience singing the Psalms goes all the way back to his childhood spent in Finglas and, presumably, to the church his Protestant mother, Iris, attended. Bono has said his father would drive him and his brother to the Church of Ireland's St. Canice's Church, so the brothers could attend the services while his father either waited outside or went to the Catholic St. Canice's across the street.

In the Anglican St. Canice's, Bono would have first heard and sung "The Lord's My Shepherd" from the Church of Ireland's hymnal, which included the popular metrical paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm by Francis Rous, set to the tune Crimond.

Artist credit: Clyde McLennan / www.smallchurchmusic.com

Bono does not go into all this detail in the film, but he does something better: He gives a 30-second a cappella performance of the first verse of the hymn while sitting at the Petersons' table.



© Calhoun/@U2, 2016