by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish.
a) Context of use
Some psalms and a particular type of the Cantus to the divine have its use in ceremonies and community celebrations. The Cantus to the divine based on the “Angel’s farewell” refers to those songs that are performed after the death of a baby during his wake in order to alleviate the sadness of the parents through singing. It is a celebration because is assumed that the boy or girl will go directly to heaven since he or she is free from sin. On the other hand, in biblical psalms we can find some texts that have their use in ceremonies and feasts. Psalms 114, 115, 116, 117, 135 have their use during Easter; psalm 118 during the Pentecost; psalm 47 during the New Year… This resemblance may be due to the fact that both songs are connected by their ritual nature, which, according to the RAE, is related to ceremonies by custom that are performed with a sacred character. In the case of “Angel’s farewell”, the passage from life to death; in the psalms, in general, the festivities highlighted by Christianity.
b) Past and present
The tradition that is updated in those who pray or sing is important in both discourses. In the Cantus to the divine is the tradition that contributes to knowledge, since the songs are transmitted from generation to generation, but is also the tradition updated in the singers according to the situation where the enunciation takes place. For example, in the “Angel’s farewell” the song is updated to comfort the mother who suffers because the death of her son/daughter; the mother is named, the guests are greeted, etc. On the other hand, in the biblical psalms, is the man´s experience with god what is transmitted to the next generation but it is also updated because is the prayer who shares from his present the experience transmitted by the text. Thus, both come together in a common religious feeling. Regarding the above, Collin (1997) writes: “El salmo es un poema bíblico, es decir, un instrumento para recordar la tradición de un pueblo; es un instrumento que todo usuario recibe y que debe tomar en la mano y agarrarlo con fuerza” (p.7).