I have been in the process of writing and recording a set of albums, Old & New, setting new music to older hymns and texts. I recently released my second of three and wanted to write a little about why I spent so much time devoted to old stuff (see other posts: I, II, III). You can get download both of the albums for free here: gregwillson.bandcamp.com. This post is on the third track, Lord, I Lift My Soul To Thee.
The lyrics from this song come from Psalm 25:1–7, 10. In these verses, David is crying out to God, he is desparate. He is “lonely and afflicted” and waits “all the day long”. It is a lament for deliverance.
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Why is David concerned about his enemies exulting over him? In this psalm, if his enemies are celebrating over him, that means they were victorious over David (and therefore all of Israel). It would have been a symbol of God’s people having been defeated.
How does this apply to us today? We know we’re not at war with flesh and blood, but with spiritual realities. We should pray that the powers of darkness—Satan and all of hell—will not win over us. Sometimes it feels like hell is winning. And that’s when we cry out to God: “God, what are you doing? Make yourself known!”
And Who is it that we lament to? We all lament in our own ways, do we bring that to God? David’s song teaches us how to lament well, how to ask for deliverance when things don’t seem to be reflecting the hope that we have in Christ. And my hope is that with my song, it will illuminate the same truths, bringing us back to Psalm 25.
I wanted the chorus to continually rise, matching the idea of lifting, or our prayers going beyond ourselves, eventually being found by the ears of God Himself.
Being united to Christ, we know our prayers are heard. We may not always see goodness prevail in this world as it is, but we pray along with Christ: “God, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” One day goodness will prevail in this world, and that’s where our hope is found.
Lord, I lift my soul to thee
O my God, I trust Thy might
Let not foes exult o’er me
Shame me not before their sight
Yea, may none be put to shame
None who wait for Thee to bless
But dishonor be their name
Who without a cause transgress
Lord, I lift my soul to Thee, O my God
Lord, to me Thy ways make known
Guide in truth and teach Thou me
Thou my Savior art alone
All the day I wait for Thee
Lord, remember in Thy love
All thy mercies manifold
Tender mercies from above
Changeless from the days of old
Sins of youth remember not
Nor my trespasses record
Let not mercy be forgot
For Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord
Grace and truth shall mark the way
Where the Lord His own will lead
If His Word they still obey
And His testimonies heed