Psalm 63: You Are My God

I was surprised to discover I hadn’t set Psalm 63 to music yet. Perhaps I shied away because I thought the competition would be fierce for a Psalm like this; it is a Psalm full of beautiful sentiments that fairly beg to be sung:
“I thirst for you.”
“My whole being longs for you.”
“Your love is better than life.”
“I sing in the shadow of your wings.”

Interestingly, there are relatively few songs based on Psalm 63 given its popularity:
“Step by Step,” made famous by Rich Mullins
“O God, You Are My God Alone” by the Iona Community
“My Soul Is Thirsting” by Michael Joncas (my favorite)

As I sat down with the Psalm, I was immediately struck by its yearning tone. There is a strong sense of longing throughout. Too often, our faith is fueled by duty, guilt, or habit. It is refreshing to hear the Psalmist expressing faith in such a passionate way. I decided the best musical style to portray this passion would be jazz. Jazz has juicy chords and unresolved melody notes that make it a rich emotional palette. In fact, in the first 6 bars, the melody is made up almost entirely of notes that don’t match the chord. This creates a sense of longing that never quite resolves. I know this elusive quality will make the song hard for congregations to sing; it may be more appropriate sung by the music leaders only.

1. You, O God, you are my God.
With all my heart I’m seeking you.
My thirsty soul, it longs for you.

I have beheld your glory.
My life is filled with your love.
With every breath I am singing.
My hands, I am lifting.
I’ll never stop praising you.

2. For you, O God, you are my God.
Throughout the night I dwell on you.
And though I sleep, I dwell with you.

I shelter here in the shadows,
secure beneath your wing.
I cling to you for my safety
from all those who hate me.
I’ll never stop praising you.

3. For you, O God, you are my God.
With all I am, I rejoice in you.
O God, my joy is found in you.

This entry was posted in Church, Congregational Songs, Demos, Jazz, Psalms. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *