‘In your righteousness set me free’ (2)
This psalm touches many of the common ideas sprinkled throughout the psalter; the essential goodness and caring nature of the creator, the rock, the strong fortress; the psalmist seeking succour ‘out of the depths’ of harsh experience; assurance of a benign protection against inimical powers, even when we are weak and old; and finally more evidence, if such were needed, that the psalms were sung:
I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, my lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered. (verses 21-24)
These declarations we hear often in other psalms — but not from this particular selection since verses 7 to 24 are never included in the lectionary. The full psalm also touches on all stages of life from birth (God as midwife, verse 6) to old age. (More in the page Psalm 71: Freedom>)
The old age dimension does not arise until verse 9 (‘Do not cast me off in my old age’), so is not included in the reading today. However, responses in both Psalms for all seasons and The emergent psalter are both energised by this idea.
Everett specifically notes that feelings of loneliness and abandonment are commonly faced by the ageing, and wrote his refrain as a two-part round ‘to make it clear to the congregation that they weren’t singing alone.’ (p. 141)
Our male voice group has presented these verses to a home-grown TTBB arrangement based on a Slovenian…. Orthodox chant for the Beatitudes. Verse 6 provides the antiphon:
Cantors: You have sustained me since my birth
Response: My praise shall always be of you.
Note: no service or psalm at WVUC this Sunday.
Several fine early settings by composers such as Gabrielli, Buxtehude and Hassler may be discovered by searching for In te domine speravi (In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust, verse 1). Here’s an anonymous treasure recorded by Le Poème Harmonique, a French group dedicated to presenting early music with original instruments: