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Rebuke Me Not in Anger, LORD (Psalm 38)

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 38 is one of the traditional penitential psalms (along with 6, 32, 51, 102, 130, and 143). Though the occasion is unknown, the author of Psalm 38 recognizes in a debilitating illness the chastising hand of God for some sin (st. 1). The prayer moves from humble confessions of guilt (st. 1, 2, 5) to a lament over the illness that repels friends and attracts enemies (st. 2-4). Utterly weak and in pain, the psalmist waits on the LORD for help, renews the lament and confession of sin (st. 5), and prays for God to "come quickly" and "help" (st. 6). Helen Otte wrote this versification in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Confession

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
—Psalm 51:17, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
—Psalm 139:23-24, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

If we say that we have no sin,
we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just,
will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Let us confess our sins to almighty God.
—based on 1 John 1:8-9, NRSV
[BCW, p 52[1],alt.,PD]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Almighty God,
you despise nothing you have made,
and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent.
Create in us new and contrite hearts,
that, truly repenting of our sins
and acknowledging our brokenness,
we may obtain from you, the God of all mercy,
full pardon and forgiveness,
through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
[prayer written by Thomas Cranmer for the Book of Common Prayer (1549), alt., PD]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

God of compassion,
you are slow to anger and full of mercy,
welcoming sinners who return to you with penitent hearts.
Receive in your loving embrace
all who come home to you.
Seat them at your bountiful table of grace,
that, with all your children,
they may feast with delight
on all that satisfies the hungry heart.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
[Harold M. Daniels in BCW, p 248(231), PD]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Like the people who greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem
and then later pronounced “Crucify him,”
we are fickle people who often deny Christ
in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Remembering the events of Jesus’ last week
helps us see ourselves for what we are:
sinners in need of a Savior, a Savior—praise God—we have in Christ.
In honesty and hope, we confess now our sins to God.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

God of hope and healing, your Son is called Jesus because he saves from sin.
In penitence we pray in that name for your saving help.
Be especially near to those who suffer today in body, mind, or spirit,
that they may know the peace of your presence and the healing power of your love. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
CHICKAHOMINY
Key
f minor
Meter
8.8.8.8

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

Stanzas 3, 4, and/or 6 of this setting may be interlaced with readings of the gospel passion narratives or with the singing of Henry H. Milman’s hymn “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty.”

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 38 is one of the traditional penitential psalms (along with 6, 32, 51, 102, 130, and 143). Though the occasion is unknown, the author of Psalm 38 recognizes in a debilitating illness the chastising hand of God for some sin (st. 1). The prayer moves from humble confessions of guilt (st. 1, 2, 5) to a lament over the illness that repels friends and attracts enemies (st. 2-4). Utterly weak and in pain, the psalmist waits on the LORD for help, renews the lament and confession of sin (st. 5), and prays for God to "come quickly" and "help" (st. 6). Helen Otte wrote this versification in 1985 for the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.
 
CHICKAHOMINY is a stirring tune that fits well with this text. The tune is marked by well-placed descending and ascending melodic figures; the final phrase was rhythmically simplified. Although part singing is possible on the middle stanzas, try having the group or congregation sing in unison throughout (but especially on st. 1 and 4). The hymn needs forceful accompaniment and surely requires a raised third on the final chord of stanza 4!
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Helen Ann (Brink) Otte Walter (b. Grand Rapids, MI, 1931) versified this psalm in 1982 for the Psalter Hymnal. She received her education at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has worked as a teacher, proofreader, and librarian. She was a member of the Poets' Workshop that worked with the revision committee to prepare psalm versifications for the 1987 Psalter Hymnal. After her first husband died and she remarried, she remained active as a freelance writer, especially of children's stories and dramas, some of which have been published in Reformed Worship under the name Helen Walter.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Henry Bryon Hays O.S.B. (b. Clarksville, TN, 1920) composed CHICKAHOMINY, which was pub­lished in his collection of hymn tunes, Swayed Pines Song Book (1981). Hays was raised in the Protestant tradition but since the 1950s has been a Benedictine monk at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. A Civil War devotee, he has derived his hymn tune titles from names of battles or places associated with that war.
— Bert Polman
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.