A Words Look: “40” by U2

Early in their career, I was rather lukewarm on U2. Lukewarm, that is, until the Live album, Under a Blood Red Sky, came out. It was a recording from the 1983 War concert tour, mainly from a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. From then on, I was hooked on U2 and Under a Blood Red Sky remains a Top 10 record in my book.

The energy. Oh my Lord, the energy in that live album is out of this world.   Meant to be played loud…real loud.

Most of their early hits are exceptionally performed on the live album. But the gem of this record, the track which grabs you and refuses to let go, is the song “40”.

I love Psalm 40. I love the hope. I love the promise the Lord will always be there no matter how dark the day.

I really like this song. I appreciate the story behind it as told by the quote from The Edge:

“So then we had this slightly unusual piece of music and we said, ‘OK, what are we going to do with it?’ Bono said, ‘Let’s do a psalm.’ Opened up the bible and found Psalm 40. ‘This is it. Let’s do it.’ And within forty minutes we had worked out the last few elements for the tune, Bono had sung it, and we mixed it. And literally, after finishing the mix, we walked out through the door and the next band walked in.”

– The Edge, U2 By U2 2006

Here are the wonderful lyrics, the actual Psalm 40, and a link to the concert video from 1983. Enjoy.

“40”

I waited patiently for the Lord

He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long, how long, how long
How long to sing this song

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and hear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song
How long to sing this song
How long, how long, how long
How long to sing this song

The portion of Psalm 40 that inspired Bono’s lyrics:

I waited patiently for the Lord
And He inclined to me and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction
Out of the miry clay
And He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm
He put a new song in my mouth
A song of praise to our God
Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord

Here’s a video link to “40” from 1983 concert at Red Rocks:

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