Psalm 121, 16 March 2014

Mt Taylor
Mt Taylor, often lifting our eyes. Easy access if you can find the path

I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. (v.1)

Or so went this familiar line from Psalm 121 in that old dusty King James version on the top shelf somewhere.

This is a song of ascent or access – like Psalm 15 that we sang on 2 February: who may abide on the holy hill? The ascent is figurative; we love the hills themselves but the answer in verse 2 offers an assurance that help comes from God, who will guard and keep you.


Of several settings of this psalm available, the innovation prize goes to the source that suggested using Help! by The Beatles. Definitely not in the King James tradition, but a great idea if you are feeling adventurous – and have your own in-house rock band musos.

Somewhat at the other end of the scale, one of two settings of Psalm 121 that we have in Together in Song, No 77 (so no link to the score, just after I said I would!) offers other attractions; responsive participation by both the lead voice(s) and people are neatly woven into a paraphrase and music setting by John Bell. [See stop press note in the comments – Webmaster]

Thanks to our cantors of the day who will lift our eyes to the beauty and security of hills seen and unseen. They will sing the first two lines in the book, the people responding accordingly.

Mountains and seas

There’s a theme of protection and safety throughout this song. (But not much in the way of ‘fecundity’ – anyone know how this tune got its rather interesting name?)

Crystal Ball

  • Next week on 23rd March comes Psalm 95 and perhaps another Everett (your webmaster/cantor/sheepdog is out of town).
  • There are five Sundays this month so the male voice group sings on 30th March, the last Sunday. It’s Psalm 23 – any requests? We are thinking of a lilting Spanish tune from Psalms for all seasons.
  • On  6 April, communion still continuing each week through Lent, we turn up Psalm 130, remembering that last year we sang Sinead‘s Out of the depths to this psalm. It’s a nice option. Comments?

9 thoughts on “Psalm 121, 16 March 2014

  1. Have looked at the Hymn. Only 2 lines for the cantor. So I suggest Jon sings it. The congregation joins in the rest. Looks simple enough. Will practice a bit so some of us know the tune.

  2. Looking ahead to Psalm 95, I like the Everett. I’m also drawn by the refrain at TiS 95 by Michael Perry (though not especially keen on the verses). ‘God is king above the mountains high, the ocean deep, the land and sky; mighty continents and islands lie within the hollow of God’s hand’ is set to the calypso carol and is bright and fun. Either way we might read the verses in between again this week. Will try to canvas opinion ahead of deadline… Looking forward to the return of the webmaster/cantor!

  3. Thanks Rachel. I had not leaned towards the calypso version in recognition of Lenten moderation and the absence of both regular guitarists.

    1. Fair enough. It is a bright psalm at its essence, with all that singing and shouting, and I think with spoken verses the calypso might not too garish for Lent. I’m leaning that way!

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