Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 18 June |
Saint of the Day: St. Gregory Barbarigo
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Matisyahu’s “Jerusalem” is the perfect use of the Psalms in pop music

J-P Mauro - published on 03/19/18

Who would have thought Jewish-themed Reggae music would sound so great?

Afraid of the past and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we?
Cut off the roots from your family tree
Don’t you know that’s not the way to be

Hailing from White Plains, New York, Matthew Paul Miller — AKA Matisyahu — is a Jewish-American Reggae musician who became popular in the early aughts as an intriguing mix of old and new: his appearance signaled Orthodoxy, and his accent seemed to channel Bob Marley. Interestingly, his art reflects both influences, melodically and lyrically. With the appearance of an Orthodox Jew and sporting a Jamaican accent, he excels at producing trendy music with deeply religious themes, and he’s made his mark as an accessible musician.

“Jerusalem,” from his album Youth, pulls as the refrain lyrics from Psalm 137, which expresses the yearnings of the Jewish people in exile following the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. Jewish sources traditionally attribute this psalm to Jeremiah.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget. May my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you,

The verse lyrics speak of all the trials the Jewish people have faced from their biblical exile to the Holocaust of WWII. Miller fills the text with imagery of suffering and the perseverance of his people.

Toward the end of the song, Matisyahu used lyrics from Matthew Wilder’s hit “Break My Stride,” for which Wilder got a writing credit.

Tags:
Pop Music
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT
Cerith Gardiner
Nightbirde’s deep faith shines in her viral performance on ...
2
Lords' Prayer
Philip Kosloski
What does “hallowed be thy name” mean in the Our Fath...
3
HOMILY
Magnús Sannleikur
5-year-old boy interrupts homily and asks for prayers for his int...
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
5
Edifa
4 Phrases about Jesus that you should never say to your child
6
Revista Misión
Interview: The husband of Chiara Corbella on his wife’s sac...
7
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.