28. O LORD My Rock, in Desperation

Text Information
First Line: O LORD my rock, in desperation
Title: O LORD My Rock, in Desperation
Versifier: Marie J. Post (1982)
Meter: 98 98
Scripture: Psalm 28
Topic: Laments; Temptation & Trial; Alternative Harmonizations
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Name: SPIRITUS VITAE
Composer: Mary J. Hammond (1920)
Harmonizer (alt. harm.): Emily Brink
Meter: 98 98
Key: D Major
Copyright: Harm. (alternative arrangement) © 1987, CRC Publications


Text Information:

A prayer of the LORD's anointed for deliverance from unscrupulous and treacherous rebels.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = v. 1
st. 2 = vv. 2-3
st. 3 = vv. 3-4
st. 4 = v. 5
st. 5 =vv. 6-7
st. 6 = vv. 8-9

The psalmist's enemies appear to be rebels within the kingdom who plot against the LORD's anointed-they "speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts" (v. 3). The psalm opens with a plea for God to defend his servant (st. 1). While praying to be spared from the fate of sinners (st. 2), the psalm singer calls upon God to deal with the rebels as they deserve (st. 3) and declares confidently that God "will cast them down" and "will never let them rise" (st. 4). A call to praise God for hearing this prayer (st. 5) accompanies a testimony to God's faithful defense of the anointed and a prayer to the Shepherd of Israel to save and bless the people (st. 5-6). Marie J. Post (PHH 5) prepared this versification in 1982 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
Situations of personal or communal distress; occasions when the church recalls Christ's Suffering; and times when Christians need to pray for other Christians who are being persecuted.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

The name SPIRITUS VITAE derives from the Latin translation of Bessie P. Head's text "O Breath of Life, " for which Mary Jane Hammond (b. England, 1878; d. St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, 1964) composed the tune around 1914. That text and SPIRITUS VITAE were first published in Heavenly Places and Other Messages (1920). Little is known about Hammond except that she lived in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, toward the end of her life and died at the Hillingdon Nursing Home in nearby St. Albans.

One of few tunes that begin on their highest tone, SPIRITUS VITAE virtually repeats lines 1 and 2 in lines 3 and 4, with only a cadential change. Antiphonal performance is appropriate if the entire psalm is sung. The setting with the melody in the tenor, composed by Emily R. Brink (PHH 158) in 1987, is well suited for a choral stanza or as an alternate organ setting.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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