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)
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:
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.
The 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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