Monday, February 22, 2021

293. Psalm 119 Hymn

Here is the hymn that I was meditating on when I did that "little concordance of Psalm 119." My aim, as in the Seven Words on the Cross hymn, is to break all records for brevity in the treatment of a vast subject. This is not a Psalm paraphrase; it's a distillation of what I think are the Psalmist's key thoughts about each of his synonyms for God's verbal revelation. The meter is close to but not quite the largest I've written hymns in; in fact, I've written at least nine hymns and seven hymn-tunes with more syllables per stanza than this hymn. For the tune, I'm recycling the melody I wrote for this hymn, titled FOUR ANGELS.

By any name, O Highest,
Your revelation lives;
Your doctrine shatters darkness
And life to dead hearts gives.
Your voice rebukes the hardened,
Unmans man-centered pride;
Your gospel bids the stricken
To trust the Crucified.
Breathe into us, and stir to flame
Your word of truth, by any name!

How blest are they who journey,
Unblemished in Your Law!
For there is peace and safety
In loving Your Torah.
The wicked may pursue me,
But it I won't forget;
With it as consolation,
I'll weather any threat.
My life is ever in my hand,
Yet on Your Law my faith shall stand.

O Lord, Your Testimonies
Are wealth to me and joy.
In them my feet are guided;
Them will my tongue employ.
A heritage forever,
A comfort in my shame,
They'll stand when all the wicked
Are swept away in flame.
May I, in rulers' quizzing hour,
Your Testimonies speak with power!

Your Precepts, Lord, are truthful,
But I hate all false ways;
Your teachings give me wisdom,
Reviving me by grace.
The proud have forged a falsehood,
Have nearly brought me low;
I count it all a trifle,
Your Precepts but to know.
Though I am small, remember me:
So shall I walk at liberty.

Lord, I will keep Your Statutes;
They are my pilgrim songs.
Hear as my heart implores you:
Defend me from all wrongs!
The earth brims with Your mercy,
The good You are and do;
Let princes speak against me,
I'll hold Your Statutes true.
That I might take them to my heart,
'Twas well I bore affliction's smart.

O Lord, all Your Commandments
Embody righteousness.
In them my heart is strengthened,
My hands are raised to bless.
I pant for them as water;
I dig for them as gold.
I run in them, Your finished
Perfection to behold.
That Your Commandments I might learn,
Lord, bid Your straying lamb return!

Lord, for Your righteous Judgments
My soul with longing breaks;
My lips to them bear witness;
My flesh with terror shakes.
When, Lord, will those be chastened
Who trouble me today?
How long until Your Judgments
Turn my reproach away?
Till then I'll joy to hear retold
Your Ordinances from of old.

Except I heed Your Word, Lord,
How can I cleanse my way?
A lamp, my footsteps lighting,
It shines as bright as day.
In heaven it is settled;
On earth, it gives me hope;
All gladness and salvation
Abide within its scope.
My Hiding Place and Shield, O Lord,
Revive and nerve me by Your Word!

Your Utterances, Father,
Are honey to my mouth;
More precious, since I've suffered,
Than in my misspent youth.
Uphold me by Your Speaking,
That by it I might live!
So plead my cause; redeem me;
My footsteps therein drive!
Now be Your gracious power stirred
Through living, active, mighty Word!

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