After reading these words, what type of music comes to mind?
Maybe a familiar chorus? Something upbeat?
Not this time?
That’s okay. Because I think the dedication line throws off many songwriters when it comes to this psalm.
The dichotomy between the tune and the words of this Psalm reminds me of a song I learned during my voice lessons in high school.
The hymn was “I Cannot Tell,” and I sang a combination of verses one and two.
The tune may come easily to those who know the song. But, it may surprise some to know that these words are sung to a well-known tune.
Londonderry Air, a.k.a. Danny Boy
As this lilting melody carries us over lyrics, we can be reminded that not all praise songs require boisterous voicing.
Perhaps it is easier to think of a powerful beat and a mantra chorus when reading the first two verses of Psalm 9, too. But, the rest of the psalm speaks to the dedication.
My enemies retreated;
they staggered and died when you appeared.
For you have judged in my favor;
from your throne you have judged with fairness.
You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have erased their names forever.
The enemy is finished, in endless ruins;
the cities you uprooted are now forgotten.
But the Lord reigns forever,
executing judgment from his throne.
He will judge the world with justice
and rule the nations with fairness.
The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.
The nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others.
Their own feet have been caught in the trap they set.
The Lord is known for his justice.
The wicked are trapped by their own deeds. Quiet Interlude
We can’t know the original tune itself. Yet, it need not be a dirge or requiem. Rather it can be a song whispered on a whistling wind, much like an air.
We don’t know the identity of the son in the dedication. Maybe the son was David’s. Yet, even as the words speak of a battle, a prayer for victory, and a quiet interlude, the chorus calls for a death-defying resurrection.
Which makes another Son come to mind. His death…and resurrection…are why I sing a different tune about my own demise. It’s one I whisper–even whistle–wherever I go.