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.
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?)
- 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?