Bruce Cockburn Plays Psalm-Influenced Favorites in Seattle

Rumors of GloryI wish you could have been at the Fremont Abbey last Thursday night with me for an event that lived up to all my hopes and expectations…

Bruce Cockburn played a short concert before receiving the honor of the Twelfth Annual Denise Levertov Award.

What is the Denise Levertov Award? It’s a prestigious honor given by the good people of Image “to an artist or creative writer whose work exemplifies a serious and sustained engagement with the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Past recipients of the award include poets Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, Madeline DeFrees, and Franz Wright; nonfiction writers Kathleen Norris, Thomas Lynch, Patricia Hampl, and Eugene Peterson; and fiction writers Bret Lott and Ron Hansen. The only musician who has received the honor previously is singer and songwriter Sam Phillips, and I cannot tell you what a joy it was for me to interview her onstage at that event.

Image’s editor and publisher Gregory Wolfe interviewed Cockburn onstage during Thursday night’s festivities. If that interview becomes available for a larger audience in any way, I’ll be sure to announce that on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Cockburn spoke about the Psalms as he moved from song to song during his short, seven-song set. He called Psalm 23 one of the “pop hits” of the Bible, and mentioned that one of his songs was written to be “something like a psalm.” That performance inspired me to write down some reflections on what Cockburn’s music has meant to me over the past three decades… particularly that song. You can read those reflections at Christ and Pop Culture.

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