Singing that pleases God: Psalms that cover every possible theme

[notice]Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.[/notice]

In our January 2016 column we “lamented” that we don’t seem to sing the “Lament Psalms”. Psalms that mourn our sins, express our depression, admit our loneliness when away from home, express our disappointment when God doesn’t answer our cries for help.  The reason we DON’T SING such Psalms is because WE want up-beat songs that make US feel happy.  The reason we SHOULD SING such Psalms is because GOD wants the Song-Psalms HE inspired for His Song-Repertoire.

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When God compiled His Song-book (the Psalms) He chose to cover a WIDE RANGE of Themes. And He wants us to SING them!  If Jesus visited our local church He might ask “Why do your only sing “Praise and Worship” songs?  Why don’t you sing … about the contrasting life-styles of the Righteous and the Wicked (Psalm 1)? … about God’s scorn of political leaders (Psalm 2)? … about how to sleep well at night (Psalms 3,4)? … about how to awake with a total commitment to God (Psalm 5)?  What excuses would we make to Jesus?  Would we say we want to develop a holy, spiritual atmosphere of worship?  Would we say we leave all those everyday concerns behind when we come to meet with God?

Get a bird’s-eye view of the wide landscape of the Psalm-topics God wants to hear us singing about.  Here is a sampling:

Living in … a dangerous world (7), a deceitful world (12), a corrupt world where they don’t believe in God (14).

Faith … when it seems God is far away 10, 22), when our culture trust in other securities (20), … when surrounded by hostile people (18,37), in all the ups and downs of life (23).

A Global Perspective … when we feel small in the cosmos (8), … when our horizon shrinks to our own little self in ‘this small corner of Thy vineyard’ (24, 47, 48, 67, 75), … when we think only of our generation, today (78).

Themes of … Suffering and Joy, Turmoil and Peace, Fear and Courage, Anger and Comfort, Creation and Scripture, Economic Inequality and Justice, History and Prophecy, Corruption and Integrity, Sorrow and Praise, Confession and Forgiveness, Marriage and Bereavement, Children and Old Age, Uncertainty and Security  ~ all such themes saturate the Psalms.

God, who gave them to us – God is listening to hear our song-Psalms that express them.  Does He wait in vain? Is He satisfied when we mouth “We exalt Thee!” over and over again, eighteen times?  No, He gets bored … and He uses this column to remind us to sing “PSALMS, with our Hymns and Spiritual Songs” (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16).

Let’s broaden our song-repertoire with the Psalms that God is waiting to hear from our lips! God won’t get bored, and neither will we.

A practical comment: When we sing the Psalms it is not necessary to sing them in the format of our favourite Bible Version.  No need to chant the Psalms from the Bible … that’s not cool anymore! What is important is that we sing the CONTENT of Scripture.  A song-writer will meditate on the actual Psalm in Scripture, digest it, and then produce the content in song-lyric format and style. It’s the same message from God, but now in a song format.  The English language is rich in such Metrical Psalms, set to music in an easily singable way.  Some examples are given in the samples below.

Psalm 1   Lyrics to Lift your Life 14b

Soaking in the Scriptures,
sending down my roots,
drawing from God’s river,
bearing season’s fruits.

No leaf ever withers
in the scorching sun;
these green branches giving
shade to everyone.

God’s own Word refreshes
every part of me,
so that I to others
God’s refreshment be.

I’ll resist the pressures
of the worldly wise.
See, their mirage water
vanishes with lies.

They are like the chaff-dust,
lacking nourishment,
blown away by cyclones
of divine judgement

I will soak in Scripture,
study and obey;
so my life will prosper
as I live God’s way.

Words: Hugh G Wetmore (c) 2005
Metre: 6565
Tune: Quietude (Speak Lord in the stillness) CD 1.5

Psalm 89:1,2     Songs of Fellowship 277
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever
I will sing, I will sing.
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.

With my mouth will I make known
Your faithfulness, Your faithfulness.
With my mouth I will make known
Your faithfulness to all generations.

James H Fillmore © Copyright Control

Psalm 91   Songs of Fellowship 991

Safe in the shadow of the Lord,
beneath His hand and power,
I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
My fortress and my tower.

My hope is set on God alone,
though Satan spreads His snare,
I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
to keep me in His care.

From fears and phantoms of the night,
from foes about my way,
I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
by darkness as by day.

His holy angels keep my feet
secure from every stone;
I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
and unafraid go on.

Strong in the everlasting Name,
and in my Father’s care,
I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
who hears and answers prayer.

Safe in the shadow of the Lord,
possessed by love divine,
I trust in Him, I trust in Him,
and meet His love with mine.

Timothy Dudley-Smith © 1970

Psalm 113   Lyrics to Lift your Life  24c
Ps 113:3

From the rising of the sun
to the west where it sets
the Lord’s name is to be praised.             Repeat

Ps 113:4,5

For the glory of the Lord
is lifted high ‘bove the heav’ns.
Who is like the Lord our God?                  Repeat

Ps 113:7,8

From the dust and the ashes
God lifts the needy up high
and seats them with the honoured ones.  Repeat

Ps 113:9

From barren childlessness
God rescues those without hope
and gives them children in their home.     Repeat

Ps 113:1,2

Praise to the Lord,
Praise Him all you servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
starting from now – and forevermore.           

Paul S Deming © 1976 Integrity’s Hosanna Music
reworked to encompass the whole of Psalm 113 (NIV)
by Hugh G Wetmore © 1999/2008

Under Copyright law, the tune may be named  but not reproduced
in association with any words other than the original words.

Psalm 63:6-8   Lyrics to Lift your Life 33e

In the silence of the night,
when I toss and turn in bed,
and my active mind prevents my eyes from sleeping,
I will meditate on You,
for You are my faithful God.

You’re my God whom my soul earnestly is seeking.
I’ll remember You at night,
for You’ve always been my help,
in the shadow of Your wings with joy I’m singing.

For You satisfy my soul,
and Your right hand holds me up,
for ‘tis only to You, God, that I am clinging.

 Words: Hugh G Wetmore © March 2010
Metre:   7.7.12..7.7.12    Tune: Silence by Hazel Hudson

It is quite legitimate to adapt and contemporise the Psalms, so that they fit the New Testament Christian era. (Isaac Watts did this with most of the Psalms.)  In this next Psalm he transposes the Exodus from Egypt to our salvation from sin, and the journey through the wilderness to God’s guidance in our daily lives

Psalm 136   Hymn Old & New 155

Give to our God immortal praise,
mercy and truth are all His ways:
wonders of grace to God belong,
repeat His mercies in your song.

Give to the Lord of lords renown,
the King of kings with glory crown:
His mercies ever shall endure
when earthly powers are known no more.

He sent His Son with power to save
from guilt and darkness and the grave:
wonders of grace to God belong,
repeat His mercies in your song.

Through earthly life He guides our feet,
and lead us to His heavenly seat:
His mercies ever shall endure
when earthly powers are known no more.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) © 1971 Faber Music
Metre:   Tune: Dunedin

It is also legitimate to customise a Psalm to be relevant to a contemporary occasion, just as a Preacher applies God’s Word to be relevant to the circumstances of his congregation.  This “Worship Column” congratulates GATEWAY NEWS on its 5th Birthday with an adaptation of Psalm 68 ….

Psalm 68

May Yahweh arise, His enemies scattered,                                                    v1
the wicked be melted as wax before fire.                                                       v2
The righteous rejoice and be glad before God,                                              v3
for His reputation is all they desire.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, who has given His Word,                   v11
to be published abroad till all people have heard!                                    v11,31
He moves through His Gateway to spread the Good News
and strengthens His Church through reports and reviews.

Come sing to the Lord, let’s sing praises to Him,                                       v4
who goes out from His holy habitation,                                                        v5
to care for the orphans and widows in need,                                              v5
gives rain in abundance His people to feed.                                               v9

Bless God, who assembles His congregation                                           v26
and leads them with music in celebration!                                              v25
Enjoy Him with gladness, who works by His power                              v28
who brought us with joy to this fifth birthday hour!

Words: Hugh G Wetmore © Gateway News 2016
Tune: To God be the glory

[If you want to sing more Psalms, but can’t find some that can be sung to singable music, or if you wish a Psalm or Song to be customised to your circumstances, ask me with an email to]



One Comment

  1. Hugh this is excellent. Any churches in Fishoek area sing them? Every blessing.