Psalm 141: A little help from friends

‘Let the faithful correct me.’ (5)

Candleholder from Abbé Fontenay

The central theme here is seeking help when faced with the choice between the right thing and the easy, doubtful or plain bad. Leading up to that plea, David asks that his prayer be counted as incense and a sacrifice, before dropping in a big ask:

set a guard over my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips (v. 3)

Knowing that this is a tough nut to crack, David also enlists in ‘friendly rebuke’ the valuable support of honest friends. (5, above)


The supply of music for this song is more generous, with John Blow, Clemens non Papa (how’s your singing in Dutch?) and Lassus lining up in the classical category.

CPDL lists an interesting and ethereal Slavonic Orthodox setting of verses 2 to 4, Да исправитсяby, Da ispravitsya by Tchaikovsky as being from Psalm 140. Further inspection reveals that it is 140 in the Vulgate numbering, 141 for us. (qv)

Russian Orthodox chant Psalm 141 Lent Liturgy “Let my prayer arise”

All of the half-dozen options in PFAS focus on the raising of the prayer and being heard, rather than on the content of the prayer.

  • 141C Let my prayer rise up, being by Marty Haugen, is an interesting song. Using two voices as in the structure of the psalm, he weaves a nice duet almost in the form of a round or imitation voice.
  • 141F in Spanish rolls along nicely.

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