On the “Psalm of the Month”

by Greg Linscott

I have been trying to carefully evaluate how and why we do music in the church where I serve. While I have not concluded that there is no place for the gospel song and occasional chorus in our repertoire, I have become increasingly convinced that we have neglected the use of psalms and other rich texts in our worship. I especially appreciated what Carl Trueman had to say in his recent 9 Marks Interview (covered nicely by my friend Ryan Martin over at Immoderate).

To that end, I have begun to introduce a “Psalm of the Month” to our congregation. I have been using copies of Hymns of Grace and Glory and Trinity Hymnal: Baptist Edition as references. We do not have a projection system, so I produce and distribute a handout (with lyrics and music) at the beginning of the month and leave extras at each service thereafter. This is also handy for reference if families or individuals wish to incorporate the music into their personal devotional time. In March, we are singing “The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” a version of Psalm 23, to the tune of ST COLUMBA. The people of our congregation have really embraced this hymn. I have selected one for April that is less familiar to me, but I am looking forward to learning it and meditating on the text over the course of the month to come.

God, be merciful to me
From Psalm 51:1-15

God, be merciful to me,
On thy grace I rest my plea;
Plenteous in compassion thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within,
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

My transgressions I confess,
Grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against thy grace
And provoked thee to thy face;
I confess thy judgment just,
Speechless, I thy mercy trust.

I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Saviour art,
Teach thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.

Broken, humbled to the dust
By thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice
And in gladness hear thy voice;
From my sins O hide thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from thee,
Let thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation’s joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

Sinners then shall learn from me
And return, O God, to thee;
Saviour, all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing thy love;
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord.