Psalm 93: A grand sovereign

‘Your testimonies are very sure, holiness adorns your house.’ (5)

This is one of a series of psalms thematically underpinned by the sovereignty of God — ‘YHWH is King’. (The theme continues in Psalms 95 to 99, the so-called Enthronement Psalms.) Gender neutrality results when the ‘king’ in most translations is replaced with ‘sovereign’ or ‘ruler’.

God is sovereign, robed in majesty, girded with strength. The world stands firm; it shall never be moved; your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. (1, 2)

Here, the psalmist calls our attention to the grandeur of creation. The song goes on to describe how the oceans have lifted up their voice, have lifted up their pounding waves.

The verse shown above was also one of those upon which Rome declared that if the earth shall not move, the world stands firm, then it must be the centre of the solar system. The church proceeded to burn at the stake those who stated that the Sun is central. See further comment on this cautionary tale under Psalms 86 and 104.

The text does not say ‘justice’, but in a broadcast called The power of music with John Bell, he tells us that this psalm was an inspiration to advocates of freedom and justice in El Salvador. The song concludes with a gentle reminder that power for its own sake is not the ultimate goal. It reaches the heavens when alloyed with ‘holiness’. (5, quoted above).


A Gelineau setting is found at TiS No 51. Unusually, a second refrain of alleluias is provided, adding depth and space for rumination. Isaac Everett, who consistently edits text for gender inclusivity, offers a simple refrain drawing of verse 1 which he renders: God is sovereign, robed in grandeur. This refrain is lightly syncopated and not as tricky as some of his pieces.

William Boyce’s bass solo

PFAS has only one responsive setting and it’s a typically easy yet harmonically interesting refrain focused on the timeless nature of divine rule.

A bass solo written by William Boyce (1711-1779) is one of relatively few classical Psalm 93 songs on the web. Still, there should be enough nice options to please all.