Psalms and canticles

Many churches, sadly, no longer use psalms, scripture's very own songbook, as a regular, scheduled part of their worship.

Why might this be so? Often it is because the traditionally assumed musical styles and culture are thought by many, alas mistakenly, to be at variance with those of today's churches. The article How long, O Lord? discusses this in more detail.

So these settings, in many styles, specifically try to bridge this gap, across churches large and small, traditional and modern. Unless otherwise indicated, these psalms employ a responsorial structure to make learning and teaching as unobtrusive as possible. And, of course, they are freely available for Internet download.

Words: Usually my own adaptation. Although reasonably close to biblical sources, the metrical nature of these settings inevitably imposes some paraphrasing. Several have a trinitarian doxology appended; this should be regarded as optional.

Music: Styles range widely from traditional organ-based to music-group. Unless otherwise indicated they can be adapted to whatever resources are locally available. A moderate pianist and solo singer should be able to lead most of them. Some include an optional descant.

Liturgy matters: The choice of settings largely reflects the major seasons for the Church of England Common Worship Principal Service and the Revised Common Lectionary, particularly from Advent through to Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.


Psalm Title Score Audio Example Bulletin CCLI ref Comments
Psalm 1 The way of the sinful disappears to dust PDF MP3   PDF 4680617  
Psalm 4 Answer me, hear my plea PDF MP3 Video[1]   4793580  
Psalm 8 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name PDF MP3   PDF 4680624  
Psalm 14 O that your salvation and your rescue PDF MP3 Audio[2]     Tune based on the Advent plainchant Rorate Caeli and in gentle 5/8 time. Paraphrase touches on Romans 3:23 "...falling short of God's glory".

Published:
  • Psalms for All Seasons[3]
See also Psalm 53 and Rorate Caeli.
Psalm 15 Who may live, O Lord, in your dwelling place? PDF MP3 Video[1] PDF 4680662  
Psalm 16 Guard me, Lord, for in you I take shelter PDF MP3        
Psalm 17:1–9 Hear, Lord, my cry for justice PDF MP3 Audio[4] PDF 4680875 A lament.
Psalm 18:18–26 He reached down from on high PDF MP3     2651655 Some jazz harmony
Psalm 18:27–38 For you, Lord, are the light above me PDF MP3     2651648 See 18:18–26
Psalm 19:1–6 Throughout the universe, we see PDF MP3 Video[1] PDF 4680882  
Psalm 19:7–14 May the words of my mouth PDF MP3 Video[5]

Audio[2]

Audio[4]
PDF 2651662 Choral style.

Published:
  • Psalms for All Seasons[3]
  • Psalms of Grace[6]
Psalm 22:25–31 In the midst of your great congregation PDF MP3 Audio[4] PDF 2651679 Can be entirely congregational.
Psalm 24 Lift up your heads, O you gates PDF MP3   PDF 2400813 Published: Worship Live, Stainer & Bell, Autumn 1998
Psalm 25:1–10 To you, O Lord, I lift up my spirit PDF MP3   PDF 2963068  
Psalm 27:1–9 God is my light PDF MP3 Video[1] PDF 2400710  
Psalm 29 Ascribe to the Lord, O high hosts of heaven PDF MP3   PDF   The paraphrase tries to retain some of the distinctive Ancient Near East cultural setting of the psalm. The tune is a minor variant of that at Ps.104.
Psalm 30 Mourning into dancing (I will extol your name, O Lord) PDF MP3 Video[1]   4680954 Detailed with music group songs
Psalm 31:9–16 Make your face to shine upon your servant PDF MP3   PDF 4680961  
Psalm 32 You are my hiding-place PDF MP3   PDF 4680978  
Psalm 34:11–20 Come, my children, and listen to me PDF MP3   PDF 4680985 Suitable for Mothering Sunday
Psalm 34 O magnify the Lord with me (I will bless the Lord)         4667496 Detailed with congregational songs
Psalm 36:5–10 How precious is your unfailing love, O God PDF MP3 Audio[2] PDF 4680992 Published:
  • Psalms for All Seasons[3]
  • Lift Up Your Hearts[7]
Psalm 40:1–11 He has put a new song into my mouth PDF MP3   PDF    
Psalm 42 As the deer longs for the running streams PDF MP3     5063484 Unaccompanied (unison, chant-like).
Psalm 47 God has gone up PDF MP3 Audio[8] (music group)

Audio[2] (choral)
PDF 4681001 Condensed text with New Testament ideas. Ideal for Ascension. Published:
  • Baseline, MWF Summer 2000
  • Psalms for All Seasons[3]
  • Season by Season[9]
Psalm 50:1–6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness PDF MP3   PDF 2400796 Same tune as Ps.19:1-6, which also demonstrates a recording of the tune.
Psalm 53 O that your salvation and your rescue PDF MP3       Tune based on the Advent plainchant Rorate Caeli and in gentle 5/8 time. Paraphrase touches on Romans 3:23 "...falling short of God's glory".

See also Psalm 14 and Rorate Caeli.
Psalm 59 I will sing of your strength PDF MP3        
Psalm 62 My soul waits for God in the silence PDF MP3 Video[10]   4681018  
Psalm 63 O God, you are my God PDF MP3   PDF    
Psalm 63 O God, thou art my God           Detailed with music group songs
Psalm 66:1–12 Make a joyful noise to God PDF MP3   PDF 4681032  
Psalm 66:8–20 Rejoice in God, you peoples PDF
text
MP3       Hymn tune: Thaxted (Gustav Holst)
Psalm 67 Let the peoples praise you, O God PDF MP3   PDF 4681070  
Psalm 67 Let the peoples praise you, O Lord our God (God of mercy) PDF MP3     4667513 Congregational song
Psalm 70 God, make speed to save us PDF MP3   PDF 4681087 Published:
  • Psalms for All Seasons[3]
Psalm 72:1–7, 18–19 Give to your King your judgment, O God (So may he judge) PDF MP3 Video[11] PDF 4681094 Published: Worship Live, Stainer & Bell, Autumn 2001
Psalm 72:1, 10–end Give to your King your judgment, O God (Kings from the east) PDF MP3   PDF 4681128 Epiphany emphasis in paraphrase
Psalm 73:21–28 Whom have I but you in the heavens? PDF MP3        
Psalm 80:1–8 Restore us again, O Lord God of hosts PDF MP3   PDF 2400789 Blues. Ideal for Advent. Published:
  • Psalms for All Seasons[3]
Psalm 82 Arise, O God, and judge the earth PDF MP3        
Psalm 84 How lovely is your dwelling place PDF MP3     4667544 Can be entirely congregational
Psalm 85 You once favoured, Lord, your people PDF MP3       Hymn tune Mannheim: entirely congregational
Psalm 91:1–12 The Lord himself is your refuge PDF MP3   PDF 2400703  
Psalm 93 God is King! The Lord is reigning PDF MP3     4664815 In hymn style
Psalm 95 Come let us sing for joy to the Lord PDF MP3   PDF 4667568 Can be entirely congregational
Psalm 96 Sing unto the Lord a fresh, new song PDF
text
MP3       Tune: Theme from Elgar's First Symphony.
Psalm 97 You, O Lord, are most high above the earth PDF MP3   PDF 4681245 For John Pritchard on his appointment as Archdeacon of Canterbury.
Psalm 98 Sing alleluias to the Lord text   Video[12]     Hymn tune Lasst Uns Erfreuen: entirely congregational
Psalm 99 Sovereign Lord, let nations tremble PDF
text
MP3       Hymn tune Regent Square: entirely congregational
Psalm 103 Bless, O my soul, the living God PDF MP3       Hymn style. Words: Isaac Watts; tune: Wharton Park. Published: In Melody and Songs.[13]
Psalm 103 O bless the Lord, my soul PDF MP3       Hymn style. Words: Isaac Watts; tune Kingsgate Bridge. Published: In Melody and Songs.[13]
Psalm 104:1–10 Bless, the Lord, O my soul PDF MP3   PDF   The tune is a minor variant of that at Ps.29.
Psalm 104:24–34 When you send your Spirit PDF MP3   PDF 4682220 Suitable for Pentecost
Psalm 111 Rejoice in God, my heart PDF MP3     4793669 In hymn style
Psalm 111 Alleluia, alleluia, Boundless in joy with one accord PDF MP3       An A–Z acrostic setting in song form. See also 112.
Psalm 112 Alleluia, alleluia, Blessed are they who fear you, Lord PDF MP3       An A–Z acrostic setting in song form. See also 111.
Psalm 113:1–3 God in Christ (From the rising of the sun) PDF MP3 Video[1]      
Psalm 115:1–7 Not to us, Lord PDF MP3     2400758 Verses in chant form
Psalm 116:12–14,17–19 What shall I render to the Lord PDF MP3     4682440 Through-composed choral song (Lutheran offertory).
Psalm 116:12–19 How shall I repay the Lord? PDF MP3     4682488 For Maundy Thursday.
Psalm 118: 1–2, 14–29 This is the day that the Lord has made PDF         Congregation: ostinato chorus
Psalm 119 Your mercies fill the earth, O Lord PDF MP3       Hymn style. Words: Isaac Watts; tune Clayport Gate. Published: In Melody and Songs.[13]
Psalm 119:33–38 Teach me the ways of your statutes, O Lord PDF MP3     4682536 Written for Margaret Thrush on her ordination.
Psalm 119:169–176 May my cry come before you, O Lord PDF MP3 Video[1]   4682550 Detailed with music group songs
Psalm 121 Unto the hills will I lift up my eyes PDF MP3   PDF 4682574  
Psalm 122 I was glad when they said to me PDF MP3   PDF 2651693  
Psalm 126 Turn again our fortunes, O Lord PDF MP3   PDF 4682608 N.T. allusions: "leavening the world" (Matt 13:33) with the "bread of life" (John 6:35).
Psalm 130 From deep distress and troubled thought PDF MP3       Hymn style. Words: Isaac Watts; tune Coniscliffe. Published: In Melody and Songs.[13]
Psalm 130 If you should note what we do wrong (Out of the depths have I called to you) PDF MP3   PDF 4682615 Published: Baseline, MWF Summer 2001
Psalm 130 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord PDF MP3 Video[14]     Written to tune Gresford, aka "The Miners' Hymn", and reflecting its lament and solemnity. Commentary.
Psalm 131 Adonai, my heart is not exalted PDF MP3       Song of adoration, rest and hope. Text based on a translation by Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris.
Psalm 134 Bless the Lord as day departs PDF MP3     4684888 In hymn style
Psalm 134 Come bless the Lord PDF MP3     4682660 Choral anthem
Psalm 135:1–6 Praise the Lord! Praise his name! PDF MP3     2400765 Rock 'n' roll. Can be entirely congregational
Psalm 137 By the turbid waters of Babylon PDF MP3   PDF 4682684 This psalm of lament's original text is well-known for its 'awkward' verses. In this slightly paraphrased version, I have attempted to incorporate these with Christian justice.
Psalm 138 I will give you thanks with all my heart PDF MP3   PDF 4682691  
Psalm 138 I give you thanks PDF MP3     4667575 Detailed with congregational songs
Psalm 139:1–9 O Lord, thou hast searched me PDF MP3     4682749 Detailed with music group songs
Psalm 139:1–18 O Lord, you have searched me out PDF MP3     4682859 Anglican chant style
Psalm 139:1–18 O Lord, you have searched me out PDF MP3       Anglican chant style, based on the "Prélude Modal" by Jean Langlais
Psalm 143 Listen, Lord, to my prayer PDF MP3   PDF 4682866  
Psalm 145 All of our days we exalt you, Lord PDF MP3 Video[15][16]     Psalm 145 is Hebrew acrostic. This version specifically maintains that characteristic.
Psalm 148 Alleluia! Praise the Lord O you heavens and skies PDF         Alternating soloist/group and congregation.
Canticle  
Bless the Lord (Song of the Three 29–34) Blest are you (Worthy to be praised) PDF         Lyrical, ostinato meditation
Benedicite (Song of the Three 35–65) Bless the Lord all you works of the Lord PDF          
Rorate Caeli (Is. 45:8 etc.) Let justice pour down PDF MP3       Based on the Advent plainchant Rorate Caeli and in gentle 5/8 time. See also Ps.14 above.
Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55) My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord PDF MP3   PDF    
Magnificat My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord PDF MP3       Detailed with music group songs
Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29–35) My eyes have witnessed your salvation PDF MP3     2400741  
Nunc  Dimittis Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace           Detailed with music group songs
Benedictus (Luke 1:68–79) Blessed be the Lord God of Israel PDF MP3   PDF 4682914  
Benedictus (Luke 1:68–79) Our God and Father bless PDF MP3     4665371 In hymn style. Tune: Pelaw Wood. Published:
  • Psalms for All Seasons[3]
  • Light on the Way[17]
Benedictus (Luke 1:68–79) Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel PDF MP3       Christmas, Epiphany, other. Anglican chant style. Published: Cantica Nova 2.[18]
God in Christ has revealed his glory (From the rising of the sun)   PDF MP3 Video[1]      
You were in the form of God (Philippians 2:5–11)   PDF MP3     4667599 Detailed with congregational songs. Published: Worship Live, Stainer & Bell, Autumn 2003.
Great and wonderful (Rev. 15:3–4)   PDF MP3     4262145 Detailed with congregational songs. Published:
  • Spring Harvest 2004 songbook[19]
Easter exsultet Rejoice, heavenly powers           Detailed with anthems
O radiant Light (Phos hilaron)   PDF MP3       Folk tune Horkstow Grange: entirely congregational

Acknowledgement: Many were commissioned by St. John's, Nevilles Cross, Durham for use in our regular pattern of worship.

[1] Recording courtesy of Sam and Paula Denyer, St. Cuthbert's, Wells, Somerset

[2] Recording courtesy of Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, USA

[3] Psalms for All Seasons, 2012, ISBN 978-1-59255-444-7

[4] Recording courtesy of Church of the Servant, Michigan, USA

[5] Recording courtesy of DaySpring Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, USA

[6] Psalms of Grace, 2022, The Master's Seminary Press, ISBN 978-0-9969176-3-6

[7] Lift Up Your Hearts, 2013, Faith Alive Christian Resources, ISBN 978-1-59255-559-8

[8] Recording courtesy of All Saints, King's Heath, Birmingham

[9] Season by Season, RSCM, 2008, ISBN 978-0-85402-167-3

[10] Recording courtesy of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Santa Barbara, California, USA

[11] Recording courtesy of Helen Duggan and Ballarat Central Uniting Church, Victoria, Australia

[12] Recording courtesy of Kathleen Theisen, USA

[13] In Melody and Songs: Hymns from the Psalm Versions of Isaac Watts, 2014, ISBN 978-1889079592

[14] Recording courtesy of Niamh Prior, Bishop Auckland Methodist Church

[15] Demo recording courtesy of Rachel Wilhelm, USA

[16] Video courtesy of St Lawrence, Skellingthorpe, Lincoln

[17] Light on the Way, 2019, ISBN 978-0-8540-2289-2

[18] Cantica Nova 2, 2017, Fagus Music

[19] Spring Harvest 2004 songbook, 2004, ISBN 978-1899-788484