Psalm 61

61A: Listen to My Cry, LORD

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1082-1083 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.
  • The following article is from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.

Text Information:

A prayer that the LORD's anointed be restored to God's presence and be enthroned there forever.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = v. 1
st. 2 = v. 2
st. 3 = v. 3
st. 4 = v. 4
st. 5 = v. 5
st. 6 = v. 6
st. 7 = vv. 7-8

In this short prayer the psalmist seeks restoration to God's presence. Kept far from the temple by circumstances of which we cannot be certain (though there are hints about being driven away by enemies), the psalmist calls to God to hear him (st. 1) "from the ends of the earth" (v. 2) and pleads to be led back to the LORD’s "rock" (st. 2) of refuge and protection from enemies (st. 3). Longing for the shelter of God's wings (st. 4), the psalmist recalls God's past mercies (st. 5) and prays for the security of the king's life and reign (st. 6-7), vowing to praise God for that protection (st. 7). The prayer that the king "be enthroned in God's presence forever" (v. 7) acknowledges that only under God's protection is the psalmist's life secure.

Later, the Jews appropriately applied this psalm to the Messiah, and surely that is how Christians sing it today. (Some scholars propose that the enemy in view is death and that "from the ends of the earth" is a metaphor for the edge of the grave.)

Henrietta Ten Harmsel (b. Hull, IA, 1921) versified this psalm in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal. Ten Harmsel attended Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. From 1949 to 1957 she taught English at Western Christian High School in Hull, Iowa, and from 1960 until retirement in 1985 was a member of the English department at Calvin College.

Many factors contributed to Ten Harmsel's interest in the psalms. As a child she learned Dutch from her parents, and they instilled in her a love for the Dutch Psalter. Later J. W. Schulte Nordholt, poet, hymnologist, and professor of American history at the University of Leiden, became a great promoter of her interest in Dutch language and literature and her translation work. Ten Harmsel's translations from Dutch include Jacobus Revius: Dutch Metaphysical Poet (1968) and two collections of children's poems: Pink Lemonade (1981) and Good Friday (1984). In 1984 Ten Harmsel was awarded the Martinus Nijhoff translation award.

Liturgical Use:
Whenever the church reflects on past or present threats to Christ and his church and kingdom. Warren suggested using Psalm 61 as a solo before a time of quiet worship or prayer.

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.
  • The following are alternative accompaniments for this tune, WEM IN LEIDENSTAGEN

Alternative Harmonization for Organ and Descant Resources:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Easy Hymn Settings Lent.  Morningstar MSM-10-315 [1992]

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Henrietta Ten Harmsel, 1985, © 1987 Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Music (WEM IN LEIDENSTAGEN 6.5.6.5): F. Filitz, 1847, 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.

61B: Saranam, Saranam

Other Resources:

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

Copyright Information:

  • Words: D.T. Niles, rev. © 1990, 2000 Christian Conference of Asia, admin. GIA Publications, Inc.
  • Music (PUNJABI): Punjabi melody; arr. Geoff Weaver © 1995 Geoff Weaver, admin. The Jubilate Group/Hope Publishing Company
  • Reprint Information:

61C: Lord, Listen to My Cry

Performance Notes:

Tune Information:

Richard Dirksen composed VINEYARD HAVEN in 1974 for the text "Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart" as a processional choral anthem for the installation of Presiding Bishop John Maury Allin at the Washington (D.C.) Cathedral, also known as the National Cathedral. The anthem includes various harmonizations for different stanzas and is scored for choir and organ with optional brass and timpani accompaniment. VINEYARD HAVEN was first published as a hymn tune in Ecumenical Praise (1977). Dirksen wrote that the quality of rejoicing was intended to foreshadow the raising of "such 'Hosannas' forever in [God's] presence and with the company of heaven in the life eternal." The tune is named after the town on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where the Very Reverend Francis B. Sayre, Jr., who was then Dean of Washington Cathedral, had his permanent home.

Erik Routley once stated that it is "safe to call [VINEYARD HAVEN] one of the greatest twentieth-century hymn tunes." After related phrases rise sequentially in pitch, the tune reaches its peak in the "hosanna" refrain and at that point exhibits the melodic and harmonic surprises which, though initially difficult for a congregation, endear this tune to many Christians today. VINEYARD HAVEN requires full, bright organ registration. Sing this majestic tune in unison.

Other Resources:

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

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Martin Leckebusch © 2002 Kevin Mayhew Ltd.
  • Music (VINEYARD HAVEN 6.6.8.6 with refrain): Richard Dirksen, 1974, © 1974, 1987 Harold Flammer, a division of Shawnee Press, Inc.; arr. © 2011 Harold Flammer, a division of Shawnee Press, Inc., reprinted by permission of Hal Leonard Corporation
  • Reprint Information: