Psalm 138, 10 June 2018

Verse 1 in this psalm of praise imagines God sitting supreme in the company of other gods and lesser heavenly beings. Literal or figurative, the sketch has the potential for a “head-of-a-pin” side track about angels and gods. So concentrate on the remaining message — essentially that we should adhere to (“bow towards the holy temple of”) love and faithfulness. God holds these above all things. (2)

In such a régime, the rulers of the world would listen to the divinely ordained ethical structure. (4) They would provide leadership to implement these principles; it’s not much use just praising them without action. They would recognise and exemplify the concept that, though rulers are mighty, they have a responsibility to follow this astoundingly simple and  sensible humanist rule and care for the lowly. (6) Then, this gracious and graceful influence will preserve and fulfil the potential in each and every one. (7)

The psalmist concludes with a prayer that the divine Spirit would sustain this work of love in our lives and world. (8)

🎵

Pickings are slim for this psalm. New Century has a very simple refrain, singing “Great is the glory of God”. TiS has quite a nice refrain but then suggests the verses be spoken — not our bag.

The Emergent Psalter does this too but, enticed by his nice chords, we have set the paraphrased and scanned psalm text into four lines set to a tune based on this refrain. In standard song format of AABA, the refrain tune, sung by a chorus, provides the A section.

Harmonised version of Isaac Everett’s refrain to Psalm 138, The Emergent Psalter, arr. Webmaster. Refrain tune with Everett’s piano accompaniment may be downloaded free from churchpublishing.org.

A soloist sings a B section in contrasting but loosely related chords:

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