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Psalm 22:1-11, 22-29 (Psalm 22)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 22 is one of the most poignant prayers in the entire psalter. Beset by enemies determined to bring him down (vv. 6-8), the psalmist prays to God, the God whom he feels has abandoned him (vv. 1-2), the God on whom he has relied since birth (vv. 9-11), the God who never failed his ancestors whenever they cried to him (vv. 3-5). The prayer shifts suddenly to exuberant praise: God will save! All generations will hear, and all humankind will take up the praise (vv. 22-31).
This psalm is evoked in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ death; and though the original occasion for this lament prayer is not known, its circumstances certainly foreshadow Christ’s suffering at Calvary (he quoted v. 1 on the cross) and his resurrection victory. 
 
Sing! A New Creation
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Psalm 22:1-11, 22-29 (Psalm 22)

Additional Prayers

Merciful God, some of your children are joyfully singing your praise.
Others are languishing in despair.
Through Jesus you are acquainted with our grief
and in him we have resurrection hope.
Bind up those who are broken, bless those who are dying, shield those who are joyous,
and lead us all to your house, where we may feast together at your table. Amen.
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Psalm 22:1-11, 22-29 (Psalm 22)

Musical Suggestion

The opening words of each stanza of the hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This” help to guide us through the shifts in the psalm. To introduce the psalm, a soloist, ensemble, or the entire congregation can hum the opening phrases of the song, preferably unaccompanied. The congregation may also hum a low D under the reading. Random handbell ringing can also enliven the reading. Play only low D’s through the first half. At v. 22, gradually begin adding upper bells (D’s, A’s, even some high E’s and B’s). Crescendo through the singing of the final refrain, taking care that the readers’ voices are still clearly heard.

This short pentatonic tune is direct, plaintive, haunting—a perfect match for Psalm 22. Sing in unison at first, and break into parts at the end of each line. Choose a tempo with energy, with perhaps a bit of stretch at the end of each statement. Given the American folk origin of this hymn refrain, consider using zither, dulcimer, autoharp, or simple guitar strumming when the refrain is used the first two times, and add other instruments the third time.
 
If you choose to play music underneath the reading of the psalm, alternate between a Dm chord (8 beats) and a C chord (4 beats). A quiet breath will cue the congregation for when they are to sing again. 
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Psalm 22:1-11, 22-29 (Psalm 22)

Hymn Story/Background

The refrain for this psalm comes from the anonymous hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This,” which was popularized by inclusion in two important American shape-note hymnals, Southern Harmony (1840) and The Sacred Harp (1844). 
— Emily Brink