Singing a Different Tune

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
I will be filled with joy because of you.
    I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.

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.

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Death of the Son.”

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.

I cannot tell why He whom angels worship,
Should set His love upon the sons of men,
Or why, as shepherd, He should seek the wanderers,
To bring them back, they know not how or when.

But this I know, He heals the brokenhearted,
And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Savior, Savior of the world is here.

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.

Psalm 9

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be sung to the tune “Death of the Son.”

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.




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