Psalm 3: I Shall Rest in Peace

This song is the first of my February Adopt-a-Psalm settings. It is based on Psalm 3, which is traditionally associated with King David as he fled from his son Absalom. Whether or not the Psalm was actually written while fleeing for his life during a revolt, the Psalm is certainly full of fears and anxieties–with a side order of vengeance. (“You break the teeth of the wicked.”

But more than that, the Psalm is full of trust. Even though all hell is breaking loose, the Psalmist talks about going to bed: “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid…” Indeed, sleep is one of the common themes between Psalm 3 and its pair, Psalm 4 (coming soon!).

As I studied the Psalm and commentaries on it, it struck me that the focus of these two Psalms is not so much the occasion of the cry for help as the deep, centered peace that the Psalmist finds within the storm. So I focused both of the songs on the theme of rest. In this setting of Psalm 3, “I shall rest in peace” becomes a repeated refrain throughout. What I like about that phrase is that “rest” not only indicates peaceful sleep but “rest in peace” is a euphemism for death. It seems to me that many people who might read Psalm 3 or sing this song may be fighting the enemy of disease, age, or death itself. Even in death, we can rest in the Lord. 

Musically, the song is almost entirely modal. In early drafts, I had all sorts of clever chord changes but realized they were detracting from the simple beauty of the melody. In the final draft, the only non-modal chord is the Dsus to D which lifts the harmonic progression nicely to the B section. In the demo above, I went with a folkish groove. This shouldn’t be heard as definitive. I worked with what I had. I could also hear this with piano in a slightly slower tempo than my recording with flowing arpeggios in the left hand–still syncopated, but not bouncy.

Below is the text, and here’s a link to the leadsheet. Thanks to Tami Parks who adopted this Psalm in honor of Ken & Candace Schaap on the 3rd Anniversary of Faithway Baptist Church

1. Surrounded by my enemies;
I shall rest in peace.
They say there is no help for me;
I shall rest in peace.
For you, O Lord, you are shielding me;
My one true hope and my glory.
I shall rest in peace.
I shall rest in peace.

2. The Lord will hear my cry of pain;
I shall rest in peace.
I sleep, I wake, God still sustains;
I shall rest in peace.
Ten thousand foes may surround my bed;
I shall not fear, for my God protects.
I shall rest in peace.
I shall rest in peace.

3. Rise up, O God, deliver me!
I shall rest in peace.
Lord, bring the violent to their knees;
I shall rest in peace.
For you, O Lord, are a help so sure.
Your blessing’s strong and your love endures.
I shall rest in peace.
I shall rest in peace.

This entry was posted in Adopt-a-Psalm, 2017, Church, Congregational Songs, FAWM 2017, Psalms. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Psalm 3: I Shall Rest in Peace

  1. Pingback: Neither Death nor Demon | The Musical Diary of Greg Scheer

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