In a former life I played at a church that had a really fine professional tenor available (as we do in Julio this morning), for whom I wrote a set of three sacred songs for Sunday worship:
- Thy Lovingkindness in the Morning (Ps.143:8)
- Thy Judgement As The Noonday (Ps.37:4-6)
- As the Evening Sacrifice (Ps.141:2-3)
The complete text is: “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning, for in Thee do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto thee.” (King James version.)
I don’t know any modern translation that can touch the King James in sheer magisterial beauty, especially in the Psalms. After all, Shakespeare (1564-1616) was alive and writing plays when the King James translation was done (1604-1611). And there’s even a fringe theory that Shakespeare participated in the KJ translation effort.
But I digress. The piece opens with a musical impression of morning, with the sound of birds singing perhaps. The singer is asking to hear lovingkindness — apparently he can’t hear any. He’s counting on the Lord to come through with some lovingkindness, because, “in Thee do I trust.” In this entire section the singer is perhaps a little withdrawn or timid.
But in the second section the singer girds up his loins (perhaps more desperate?) and the piece opens up considerably: “Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk” is more of a demand than a plea. And the phrase “for I lift up my soul unto thee” lifts, lifts, lifts UP the word ‘soul’.