The Earth: More Than a Footnote
“Make a joyful noise, all the earth!” – Psalm 100
In the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible I was given to mark my entrance into third grade (many years ago), the first verse of Psalm 100 was translated as “Make a joyful noise, all ye lands!” A superscript number next to the word “lands” directed the reader to a footnote that affirmed the Hebrew word was better translated as “the land” or “earth.”
The New RSV incorporates the footnote and proclaims that “all the earth” (my emphasis) should make the joyful noise. Other contemporary translations such as the New International Version and The Voice agree. It’s all the earth, not just all the lands, countries, nations, or even people. The whole earth, rocks and rivers, deserts and deciduous forests, penguins and platypuses. We people are just part of the chorus.
Decades ago when the space mission Apollo 8 sent back the first pictures of the earth rising over the moon, it helped change our perspective on the world and our place in it. Moving “the earth” from a footnote back to where it belongs in this psalm can do the same.
God of all the earth, help us to find our proper place alongside the rest of your creation to sing your praises. As our country and our churches prepare to celebrate Earth Day this week, remind us that “all God’s critters got a place in your choir.” Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.