Psalm 4, 19 April 2015

This psalm is full of angles. (I nearly typed ‘angels’ having in mind the fine crew of harmonisers singing psalm and song with me last week, thank you all; and now having just seen a tweet on a choir of angels)

The ideas in the psalm switch nimbly from verse to verse, much more readily than these old points seen on oone of our monthly church walks with Col.
The ideas in the psalm switch nimbly from verse to verse, much more readily than these old points seen on one of our Sunday walks with Col.

Each verse seems to switch to a new idea, like a train track with many splits and points of departure. Here is a key word for each verse:

  1. help
  2. patience
  3. cherished
  4. ponder
  5. trust
  6. light
  7. gladness
  8. peace

A little rumination shows that the phrases therein are much richer; and they are not disconnected.

But as an aside, what is it about being in bed? Maybe David and his harp — the foreword says ‘To the leader, with stringed instruments: a psalm of David ‘ — were weary after a long day. He’s certainly ready for bed in several verses:

When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah (v.4)

I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O God, make me lie down in safety. (v.8)

The bed presumably represents a safe, quiet place: the key words — ponder, silent, peace and safety — are the dominant ideas. I did say there were many angles.


TiS No 2 is Gelineau setting, nice and simple although it does not include all verses. It uses verse 6 as the refrain (‘let your face shine upon us’)

PFAS has two responsorial settings in 4B, one by Anthony Teague 1986, one adapted by John Bell from a translation from Malawi. Both are suitable. Both adapt the last verse (8 – see above) for the people’s refrain.

Select a soundThe emergent psalter has yet another similar approach but uses verse 1 (Answer me when I call). As is his wont, Isaac Everett employs some more unusual and edgy harmonies based on an E flat major ninth that appeal to my jazz piano sensibilities. Here’s the music >

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