Psalm 141: O Lord, I Call to You, Please Hear Me

Any regular follower of this blog knows that I am on a quest to set every Psalm to music. A quick perusal of recent blog posts reveals that I’ve also been writing a series of jazz tunes for my trio to play at our weekly gig. This week, I combined those two seemingly different compositional threads: Voila! A jazz Psalm!

To tell you the truth, I don’t know what inspired me to combine Psalmody and jazz. It’s not my original idea, to be sure. Frankly, jazz is a performance music–and a virtuosic one at that. In my estimation, it adapts poorly to the demands of congregational worship music, which focuses on group singing. Nonetheless, I thought I’d give it a try to see if I could bring these disparate contexts together.

The lyrics of my Psalm 141 setting are a straightforward metrical versification. To that, I’ve added an optional Intro/Outro/Chorus. If I were leading this in a congregation, I’d likely have them sing that simple eight-measure phrase only, leaving the (more complicated) verses to a soloist until it became familiar. Of course, I didn’t lead it in a congregation; I led it in a bar. And that’s just what this recording sounds like.

1. O Lord, I call to you, please hear me;
may my prayer like incense rise.
And may my lifted hands, imploring,
be to you a sacrifice.

Oh, sanctify my lips
to sing the praise you’re due.
Though evil offers fare so sweet,
my heart will feast on you.

2. I count it as abundant blessing
to receive a saint’s rebuke.
For if it keeps my feet from wandering,
I will gladly hear hard truth.

For evil will fall down,
its power overthrown,
and all its might will turn to dust
that’s plowed into the ground.

3. My eyes are fixed on you, my Savior.
My help comes from you alone.
In you alone I find my refuge;
guide me safely to my home.

For danger marks my way
and evil lies in wait.
I safely pass while they are snapped
within the traps they’ve made.

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