38. Rebuke Me Not in Anger, LORD

Text Information
First Line: Rebuke me not in anger, LORD
Title: Rebuke Me Not in Anger, LORD
Versifier: Helen Otte (1985)
Meter: LM
Scripture: Psalm 38
Topic: Ascension & Reign of Christ; Judge, God/Christ as; Sickness & Health
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Name: BOURBON
Harmonizer: Louise McAllister (1958)
Meter: LM
Key: G Major
Source: Columbian Harmony, 1825


Text Information:

A penitent prayer for restoration from severe illness and for deliverance from the opportunistic attacks of enemies.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-4
st. 2 = vv. 5-8
st. 3 = vv. 9-12
st. 4 = vv. 13-16
st. 5 = vv. 17-20
st. 6 = vv. 21-22

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 (PHH 17) wrote this versification in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
Serves well as a confession of sin, but may also be used in the context of sickness or other humbling circumstances–whenever God's people want to cry out, "Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my Savior."

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

A pentatonic (five-pitch) folk tune from the southern United States, BOURBON fits well with the penitential text of Psalm 38. The tune calls for unison singing, with accompaniment providing a firmly articulated rhythm. Like many pentatonic tunes, when unaccompanied it can be sung in canon after either one or two measures.

Included in Columbian Harmony (1825), BOURBON was credited there to Freeman Lewis (1780-1859) and set to "Twas on that Dark and Doleful Night," a text often attributed to Isaac Watts. The tune appeared in several other nineteenth-century songbooks, among them Hauser's Hesperian Harp (1848). The tune title presumably refers to the aristocratic French family whose descendants included Henry IV, Phillip V, and Charles III, and after which a Kentucky county is named.

The harmonization (1958) is by Louise McAllister (b. Louisville, KY, 1913; d. Richmond, VA, 1960). She spent her childhood in Louisville, where her father was a professor at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. In 1925, when her father began teaching at Union Theological Seminary, she moved to Richmond, Virginia, and lived there the rest of her life. A pianist, composer, teacher, and writer, McAllister attended the Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia, and Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia. She published many piano compositions and harmonizations of folk-hymn melodies.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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