February 2022 proved to be too short to achieve my goal of 14 Psalm collaborations. (You can hear a concert of the 12 songs I completed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBiORFbDulE) However, I’m trying to make things right by completing two more songs that I left as drafts earlier.
This one is a hymn Doug Gay wrote on Psalm 54, a prayer for salvation from enemies. It is the kind of Psalm I once dismissed as petty and paranoid. But now that I am older (or more petty and paranoid?) I see that, indeed, life is full of people who get a thrill out of bringing others down a few notches: “Arrogant foes are attacking me; ruthless people are trying to kill me–people without regard for God.” (Turn the page to Psalm 55 and you’ll see that sometimes the worst foes are former friends!) Doug has done a great job of capturing the spirit of the Psalm honestly while focusing more on God’s salvation than the malice of the attackers.
Musically, I heard it as an urgent, yet confident prayer. It needed music that is vulnerable, but strong. My original version (which is retained in the SATB version of the music) sounds like an early music consort, with modal harmonies and a hand drum. But as I developed the song, I wanted to make it accessible to those who don’t have Estampie at their church, so I wrote a simple piano accompaniment. As I recorded it, it morphed from Estampie into Malicorne or Steeleye Span. One could do worse…
1. Save me, O God, save me by your great name.
Uphold my life, by your almighty power.
Those who despise me, pitiless and cruel,
seek to destroy me, mock me to my face.
Hear me, O God, draw near to hear my prayer.
Draw near to hear my prayer.
2. Still I confess my faith, that God is near.
God is my helper, God is my defense.
And I believe my enemies will find
God will not let their callous evil stand.
Come, faithful God, and bring it to an end!
Come, faithful God, be near.
3. In love and freedom, I will bring my praise.
I will give thanks, O Lord, for you are good.
You have delivered me and saved the day.
Now I can see my enemies dismayed.
Danger is past, my hope has been renewed.
I will give thanks, O Lord.