Psalm 56

56A: In My Day of Fear

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1082 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.

Other Resources:

  • Purchase a collection written by John Bell that contains this song and is published by GIA Publications, Inc.
  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words: The Iona Community © 1993 Wild Goose Resource Group, Iona Community, Scotland, GIA Publications, Inc., exclusive North American agent
  • Music (DISTANT OAKS): The Iona Community © 1993 Wild Goose Resource Group, Iona Community, Scotland, GIA Publications, Inc., exclusive North American agent
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56B: God, I Am Beaten, Battered and Bruised

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1082 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.’

Other Resources:

Copyright Information:

  • Words and Music: Ken Medema © 2010 Ken Medema Music/Brier Patch Music
  • Reprint Information:

56C: O God, Be Merciful to Me

Performance Notes:

Text Information:

A prayer for deliverance from enemies who conspire to destroy through slander and defamation.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-4
st. 3 = vv. 5-7
st. 4 = vv. 8-11
st. 5 = vv. 12-13

The psalmist is under such threats from enemies that he is in mortal danger. But because the enemies' weapons are defamation and slander, there is no human court of appeal to which he can plead his case. So the psalmist appeals to God for deliverance. The psalmist frames this prayer with an appeal to God (st. 1) and a confession of assurance (st. 5). An inner frame confesses confident trust that God will preserve the psalmist against the treachery of mortals (vv. 3-4, 10-11; st. 2,4). And at the prayer's center the psalmist asks God to bring down the enemies and to respond to this lament (st. 3-4). Helen Qtte versified this psalm in 1986 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
When the church is under attack by worldly attempts to discredit its ministry.

Tune Information:

James Calvin Ward (b. Belleville, IL, 1950) composed ROSALIE MCMILLAN in 1984 for Psalm 17; the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee, however, chose it as the setting for Psalm 56, which is versified in the same meter. Ward named the tune for his mother, whose Covenanter heritage in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America influenced his love for the psalms. This tune consists of two long lines with identical rhythmic patterns. The simple harmony invites four-part singing.

Ward received a BA in music from Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and a Masters in Jazz from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. From 1973 to 1975 he worked as a campus intern and musician with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, then codirected the progressive jazz group "Elan" in Pittsburgh until 1978. After working with Lamb and Lion Records (Pat Boone/Benson) and Greentree Records, Ward began working independently; he currently tours North America annually as a solo performer, recording artist, and songwriter. He also serves as director of music at New City Fellowship Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Among the recordings Ward has released are Mourning to Dancing (1980), Faith Takes a Vision (1983), Good Advice (1985), and Over All the World (1990). A number of his songs have been arranged as choral anthems.

Other Resources:

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

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Helen Otte (b. 1931), 1986, © 1987 Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Music (ROSALIE MCMILLAN 8.8.4 D): James Ward, 1984, © 1987 Music A. D.
  • Reprint Information: