59. Protect and Save, Me, O My God

1 Protect and save me, O my God,
from those who seek my life;
and set me high, secure, above
the rising tide of strife.

2 The workers of iniquity
against me lie in wait;
though I am innocent, O LORD,
they gather in their hate.

3 Now see their wickedness, O LORD;
come to my help, I plead.
LORD God of hosts, O Israel's God,
rise, help me in my need.

4 My enemies with deadly rage
renew their fierce attack.
They think the LORD will not regard,
but you will turn them back.

5 O God, my strength, on you I wait;
to you for help I flee.
My God with mercy will defend
his own triumphantly.

6 O Lord our shield, let wickedness
and pride be put to shame.
Then all will know that you do rule,
and all will fear your name.

7 Like dogs that prowl the city streets
my foes slink back at night.
They would devour my life like food,
but God will win the fight.

8 When all the night of woe is past
and morning dawns at length,
then I will praise you, loving God,
my refuge and my strength.

Text Information
First Line: Protect and save me, O my God
Title: Protect and Save, Me, O My God
Meter: CM
Scripture: Psalm 59
Topic: Enemies & Persecution; Laments
Source: Psalter, 1912, alt.
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: MANCHESTER
Harmonizer: Emily Brink (1985)
Composer: Thomas Ravenscroft (1621)
Meter: CM
Key: e minor
Copyright: Harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications


Text Information:

A prayer for deliverance from the fierce attacks of powerful and treacherous enemies.

Scripture References:
st. 1 =vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-4a
st. 3 = vv. 4b-5
st. 4 = vv. 6-8
st. 5 =vv. 9-10
st. 6 = vv. 11-13
st. 7 =vv. 14-15, 16b
st. 8 = vv. 16-17

Like snarling dogs, the psalmist's enemies prowl the city at night and "spew out swords from their lips" (v. 7). Under such threat the psalmist turns to the LORD for protection (st. 1), declaring personal innocence, describing the unwarranted hatred of these enemies (st. 2), and pleading for God's help (st. 3). These enemies blindly disregard God, but the LORD "will turn them back" (st. 4). The psalmist professes reliance on God's sure help (st. 5) and asks God to confront the enemies' wickedness with his sovereign power (st. 6). Even though the enemies "slink back at night," the psalmist knows God will defeat them (st. 7) and promises to praise the LORD "in the morning" (v. 16), confident that the night of woe will give way to the dawn of God's relief (st. 8).

In the first part of this psalm (st. 1-5) we sing a prayer for deliverance, while in the second part (st. 6-8) we express assurance that the LORD will deliver. The versification (altered) is from the 1912 Psalter.

Liturgical Use:
In situations of distress and persecution; or by Christians who sing this prayer on behalf of others in severe distress.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

MANCHESTER (also known as ELY; both names refer to British cities) is from the musical edition of The Whole Book of Psalms (1621) by Thomas Ravenscroft (b. England, c. 1582; d. England, c. 1635). Ravenscroft was a chorister as well as a participant in a theater company of child actors at St. Paul's Cathedral in London (1598). He graduated from Cambridge University with a music degree in 1605 and served as music master at Christ's Hospital from 1618 to 1622.

A composer of many songs for stage productions, Ravenscroft also published a number of works, of which the best known is The Whole Book of Psalms, with the Hymnes Evangelical and Songs Spiritual, composed into four parts by sundry Authors, to such several Tunes as have been and are usually sung in England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Italy, France, and the Netherlands, never as yet in one volume published (1621). This psalter, with the tunes in the tenor, contains 105 settings (forty-eight by Ravenscroft) and was one of the earliest publications to list the composers' names as well as the tune names.

Emily R. Brink (PHH 158) harmonized the tune in 1985. MANCHESTER reveals the rhythmic vitality once present in British psalm tunes (partly as a result of Genevan influence). Think two beats per measure.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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