Tuesday Hymns: “Psalms 121”

I love singing the Psalms when God’s people gather to worship Him. The thought that I am singing the same words (granted they are in English, not Hebrew, and changed to fit our patterns of meter and rhyme) that were sung over 2500 years ago by worshippers of YHWH reminds us that we, “although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree.” (Romans 11:17) We are a part of “the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 25, Of the Church)

Psalm 121 is one of the “Songs of Ascents” that was sung by pilgrims “heading up” to Jerusalem (both geographically and spiritually) to take part in the feasts commanded by the Lord under the Old Covenant. It is a reminder to us that our help is to be found in the Lord. People may (and often will) let you down, but the Lord is always at work fulfilling His eternal purpose in our lives, giving our lives meaning and direction as we face the difficulties of this fallen world.

This Psalm is often sung to the familiar tune, DUNDEE.

I to the hills will lift my eyes.
From whence shall come my aid?
My safety cometh from the LORD
Who heav’n and earth has made.

Thy foot He’ll not let slide, nor will
He slumber that thee keeps.
Lo, He that keepeth Is-ra-el,
He slumbers not nor sleeps.

The LORD thee keeps; the LORD thy shade
On thy right hand doth stay;
The moon by night thee shall not smite,
Nor yet the sun by day.

The LORD shall keep thee from all ill;
He shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD as thou shalt go and come
Forever keeps thee whole.

(Scottish Psalter, 1615)

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