Psalm 139

139A: My Lord, You Have Examined Me

Performance Notes:

Tune Information:

RESIGNATION is another of the anonymous tunes from the shape-note hymnal tradition in the Southern United States; William Walker included it in his Southern Harmony (1835) set to Watts' text. That association of text and tune has been maintained in many hymnals and anthems, including a famous choral setting by Virgil Thompson.

Like so many American folk tunes, RESIGNATION is pentatonic. This rounded bar form tune (AABA) has a sturdy harmonization. Sing in unison or harmony.

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.
  • The following are alternative accompaniments for this tune, RESIGNATION/CONSOLATION

Alternative Harmonization for Organ and Descant Resources:

  • Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]
  • Fedak, Alfred V. 25 More Harmonizations. Selah 160-729 [1998]

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Martin Leckebusch © 2006 Kevin Mayhew Ltd.
  • Music (RESIGNATION 8.6.8.6 D): W. Walker's Southern Harmony, 1835, P.D.; harm. Hymnal for Colleges and  Schools, 1956, © 1956 Yale University Press
  • Reprint Information:

139B: LORD, You Have Searched Me

Performance Notes:

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 139:1-6
st. 2 = Ps. 139:7-10
st. 3 = Ps. 139:13-14
st. 4 = Ps. 139:15-16
st. 5 = Ps. 139:23-24

A versification of much of Psalm 139, "LORD, You Have Searched Me" comes from the 1912 Psalter; Marie J. Post modified it in 1986 for the Psalter Hymnal. Stanzas 1 and 5, following verses 1 and 23-24 of the biblical text, frame the entire psalm.

Tune Information:

Henry Kemble Oliver (b. Beverly, MA, 1800; d. Salem, MA, 1885) composed FEDERAL STREET in 1832, possibly as an imitation of earlier psalm tunes in long meter. He took it to a music class taught by Lowell Mason (who may have contributed to the harmony); Mason published it in his Boston Academy Collection of Church Music (1836).The tune name refers to the street in Boston where Oliver's boyhood church stood, al1 to the street in Salem where Oliver's wife, Sally, was “reared, wooed, won, and married.”

Kemble was educated at Harvard and Dartmouth. He taught in the public schools of Salem (1818-1842) and was superintendent of the Atlantic Cotton Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts (1848-1858). His civic service included being mayor of Lawrence (1859¬1861) and Salem (1877-1880), state treasurer (1861-1865), and organizer of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics and Labor (1867-1873). Oliver was organist at several churches, including Park Street Congregational Church in Boston, North Church in Salem, and the Unitarian Church in Lawrence. A founder of the Mozart Association and several choral societies in Salem, he published his hymn tunes in Hymn and Psalm Tunes (1860) and Original Hymn Tunes (1875).

While the text in this song often consists of two long lines, this tune unfortunately insists on four phrases. Trained choirs can easily couple the short phrases into the longer units the text calls for, but congregations may need persistent help from the organist or choir to complete the longer lines. Sing this tune in harmony. Try the alternate tune MELCOMBE (274) for a closer match of textual lines to musical phrases.

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Psalter, 1912; rev. Marie J. Post, 1986, © 1987 Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Music (FEDERAL STREET 8.8.8.8): Henry K. Oliver, 1832, P.D.
  • Reprint Information:
    • Words: permitted with a license from OneLicense.net or a CCLI License.
    • Music: The Music is in Public Domain. You do not need permission to reprint it.

139C: Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24 A Responsorial Setting

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words and Music: Hal H. Hopson © 1989 Hope Publishing Company
  • Psalm Text: from Evangelical Lutheran Worship © 2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, admin. Augsburg Fortress Publishers
  • Tone: © 2011 Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Reprint Information:
    • Words and Music: permitted with a license from OneLicense.net or a CCLI License.
    • When reprinting the Psalm Text and Tone, please use the correct copyright line. Faith Alive Christian Resources gives you permission to reprint the Tone for use in a worship setting.

139D: You Are Before Me, Lord

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1090-1091 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Ian Pitt-Watson (1923-1995) © 1973 Ian Pitt-Watson Trust; alt.
  • Music (HIGHLAND CATHEDRAL 10.10.10.10): Uli Roever and Michael Korb © Universal Music Publishing Group (Germany)
  • Reprint Information:

139E: O Lord, My God, You Know All My Ways

Performance Notes:

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Paul Wigmore © 1992 The Jubilate Group, admin. Hope Publishing Company
  • Music (SHEPHERDSWELL): John Barnard © 1992 The Jubilate Group, admin. Hope Publishing Company
  • Reprint Information:

139F: Oh Señor, tú me has examinado/Oh, Lord God, You Have Searched Me

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Marisol Díaz © Marisol Díaz; tr. Mary Louise Bringle (b. 1953), 2011
  • Reprint Information:
    • Music: Marisol Díaz © Marisol Díaz; arr. Marcus Hong, 2011