Psalm 54

Ps54 Cormac MS36929

Psalm 54 ‘Deus in nomine’ from a Gallican Psalter (The ‘Psalter of Cormac’) of around 1300 CE. British Library MS 36929 f.61v

In seven short verses, David rehearses the themes encountered in many of the psalms, a cry for divine attention, safety and justice. At the end, reminded of past faithfulness and deliverance, he is moved to give thanks and more — a freewill offering and sacrifice.

Psalm 54 just squeaks into the lectionary in one year as an alternative reading, so there are relatively few modern settings available. Everett’s in TEP, drawing on verses 1 and 4, is perhaps the simplest and most easily sung by a congregation following a cantor.

Two classical medium-length settings entitled Deus in nomine tuo (God in your name, v.1) by Lassus and Hassler in four voices look quite accessible and rewarding for the local choir or quartet. Settings by the Gabrielis (Andrea and his more famous nephew Giovanni, one time student of Lassus) calling for 8 parts each might be a gig too far.

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