‘We’re both hopeless at committing things to memory!’ says Anne Thompson, who learnt the psalm to raise money for international development charity Tearfund. But setting aside time for their task has brought the mother and daughter the unexpected joy of a daily reason to do something together, and the motivation to continue.
‘Initially we found it really embarrassing to stand in a shop and video ourselves,’ says Anne. They frequently got the giggles as they tried, and sometimes failed, to retrieve words from their memories for their social media films. ‘As soon as the camera goes on your mind goes blank but the more you try the better you get at remembering things. People have been so encouraging. They ask us what we are doing, and actually seem to like it better when we go wrong!’
They recited the words in various locations around their homes in Kent, including the local pub, a coffee shop, the supermarket, and the hairdressers, where they booked a double appointment.
Speaking in Hebrew in public attracted attention, and Anne had chosen Psalm 22 because many people think Jesus recited it during his crucifixion. ‘It’s quite a special one to learn in Hebrew,’ she says, explaining that the poignant words have helped her to imagine Jesus on the cross, looking at his mother and the soldiers, or feeling abandoned by God. ‘I decided to do it before I realised how long the psalm was, and it gets harder to learn as you go along because there’s no real logical order to the words!’
As a student of Hebrew, it was an obvious choice for Anne to learn in that language, but she says: ‘It was almost like preparing for a marathon. I needed to spend quite a long time just learning the vocabulary and the phrases, and what the different forms of the verbs meant, before I started to learn it in order, as a poem.’
Reflecting on the challenge, Anne says: ‘I want to carry on doing something with my mum, it’s motivated me to learn the Hebrew vocabulary, and I like the idea of saying scripture in public, so those three things I really want to continue. I chose to fundraise for Tearfund because I feel it is a very wise organisation. I’ve visited their projects in India, Zambia and Brazil, and seen their work in action. That has been hugely motivating and I’d like more people outside the church to know about Tearfund.’ JustGiving - Learn for Lent
For further information or interview requests call Louise Thomas on 07590 775847 or for out of hours media enquiries please call 07929 339813.
Notes to editors: Tearfund is a Christian charity that partners with churches in more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries. We tackle poverty through sustainable development, responding to disasters and challenging injustice. We believe an end to extreme poverty is possible. Tearfund is also a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit www.tearfund.org.