69. Save Me, O God; I Sink in Floods

Text Information
First Line: Save me, O God; I sink in floods
Title: Save Me, O God; I Sink in Floods
Versifier: Marie J. Post (1985)
Meter: CM
Scripture: Psalm 69
Topic: Enemies & Persecution; Laments; Suffering of Christ1 more...
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Name: ST. FLAVIAN
Harmonizer (alt. harm.): Alan Gray (1929)
Meter: CM
Key: F Major
Source: Day's Psalter, 1562


Text Information:

A plea for God to have mercy and to deliver from scornful enemies–to save from the miry depths.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 4-5
st. 2 = vv. 4-5
st. 3 = vv. 6-8
st. 4 = vv. 9-12
st. 5 = vv. 13-15
st. 6 = vv. I6-18
st. 7 = vv. 19-20
st. 8 = v. 21
st. 9 = vv. 22-28
st. 10 = v. 29
st. 11 = vv. 30-33
st. 12 = vv. 34-36

In this prayer a godly king pleads for God to save him from a host of enemies who conspire against him at a time when God has "wounded" him (v. 26) for some sin in his life (v. 5). The authors of the New Testament viewed this prayer as foreshadowing the sufferings of Christ. Only Psalm 22 is quoted or alluded to more often in the New Testament.

The psalmist begins with a cry to God from the depths (st. 1); he is troubled by countless enemies and by personal sins (st. 2). He asks that God spare the saints from suffering shame on his account (st. 3); his zeal for God has brought only reproach from enemies (st. 4). In faith the psalmist turns to God for deliverance (st. 5), asking to be set free in God's mercy (st. 6). LORD, you know how I have been scorned, says the psalmist (st. 7); my enemies have fed me gall and curses (st. 8). Bring on them the judgment due them (st. 9), and grant my poor, troubled soul salvation (st. 10). This Messianic psalm closes with a vow to praise God, who "still hears the needy" (st. 11), and with a call to all creation to do the same, for God makes his people secure in Zion (st. 12).

Marie J. Post (PHH 5) prepared this Versification in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use
Good Friday (especially st. 7-8); stanza groups 5-6 and 10-12 may be used as prayers for deliverance.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

ST. FLAVIAN is found in John Day's Whole Booke of Psalmes (Day's Psalter; 1562) as an eighth-line tune set to Psalm 132. The first four lines were published in the 1875 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern and given the name ST. FLAVIAN, after a fifth-century bishop of Constantinople. ST. FLAVIAN is notated in isorhythm, rather than in the more varied rhythms of the original tune in Day's Psalter. Though it has lost some of its rhythmic vitality, this music has a majestic character that suits the text.

An early English printer, John Day (b. Dunwich, Suffolk, England, 1522; d. Walden, Essex, England, 1584) is primarily known for his printing of the Whole Booke of Psalmes by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins (1562). In 1559 Day had already received a printing monopoly for this psalter from the crown; he printed thirty-six separate editions. Day further established his reputation by the excellence of his product, devising different printing types and illustrating his books with ornate woodcuts. His publications included Queen Elizabeth I's Prayer Book, Foxe' s Book of Martyrs, and Archbishop Parker's Psalmes (for which Thomas Tallis provided some noteworthy tunes).

Organists will want to use the alternate harmonization by Alan Gray (b. York, England, 1855; d. Cambridge, England, 1935) for one or more stanzas. Gray composed the descant for Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied law and music. A composer of church music and works for organ and chamber groups, Gray was music director at Wellington College (1883-1892) and Trinity College (1892-1930). He also conducted the Cambridge University Music Society. His A Book of Descants (1923) gained much popular use.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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