Psalm 32 is one of the psalms of penitence — this theme takes up the first half of the song — but also of refuge: “You are my hiding-place” (vv. 6 -7).
Then it changes direction, breaks into other riffs of guidance or wisdom (8-9) and finally circling back to the initial theme of thanksgiving.
Of the seven traditional penitentials, David in this song is particularly conscious of personal failings, confession and forgiveness. A tweet by Ben Myers summarising the psalms captured it cleverly with a positive twist:
Psalm 32: When I finally got the courage to confess my sins, I discovered You weren’t even listening. You were singing to me. #psalmtweets
Throughout, a strong sense forgiveness after error is a cause for rejoicing.
Psalms for all seasons suggests You are my hiding place, which many groups will enjoy.
Together in Song offers a very traditional 17th century hymn How blest are those, TiS 20.
A memorable and lilting Isaac Everett antiphon draws on the prayer guidance for guidance in verse 8 with, chords slipping easily from minor to relative major sequences and back again in short order:
Emin C F B
Show me the way to go, counsel me with your eye upon me
If a few good sight-readers are available, two short trios are worth a look:
- Orlando di Lasso, Dixi confitebor, verse 5 only; starts simply but becomes more complex; excerpt shown in the illustration. Readers may recall that Lassus wrote a famous and impressively ambitious set of Penitential Psalms with one motet per verse.
- Thomas Tomkins, Blessed is he, verses 1 and 2.