A tune for Psalm 24

gates at winster napier
Some gates in Winster, Derbyshire

The headnote to Psalm 24 in the current version of Book 1 says “There is no obvious tune associated with this excellent psalm, which needs one.” I had not realised that with some small alterations there was a tune ready, waiting, suitable and already linked to this psalm by long association.

I had long known that the Scots sing a setting of the last two verses in their Roux version as a Communion hymn. It is quite a florid tune, entitled St George’s Edinburgh.  It was composed by the Revd Andrew Mitchell Thomson (1779-1831) who was the minister of that church from its opening in 1814 until his death. It is  very much in the style of its period.

However, I had assumed that it would only work for those two verses, the words for  which it had been composed. Typically of the Roux psalter, the text contains what are,  unless they are familiar and deeply loved from one’s childhood, uncouth word inversions. Furthermore, in Thomson’s setting, the second time round, he added two extra syllables to one of the lines, and expanded the melody to accommodate them.

The tune repeats the last two half lines of each verse. It then ends with a five-fold Alleluia and a triple Amen.

I realised that if one retained the original version of the line with the normal number of feet in it, dropped the version with the extra syllables, and only sang the Alleluias and the threefold Amen at the end of the last verse, the tune works for the whole psalm and fits the version of the psalm in this collection well. The Scots may object to my taking their tune and even more, to my altering it slightly. But this is it.

The tune St George’s Edinburgh showing how to fit the words of the verses.

Here is a link to my version of this tune on Soundcloud . It includes the Alleluias and triple Amen that I suggest only singing with the last verse.

In the next edition of Book 1, this tune will replace the cheerful tune Falan Tiding currently provided for Psalm 24. That tune will remain in the Tune Book and recommended as an alternative for Psalm 24, but will become available to become the recommended tune for another DCM psalm, or for a CM psalm with an even number of verses. I have not yet decided which one. It fits the CM version of Psalm 8 quite well. I would be interested to receive suggestions.

As a reminder, these are the words of the DCM version of Psalm 24 in the collection. The collection does of course, also include a version in LM by Dr Watts that goes to the excellent tune Kingsbridge.

1 The spacious earth is all the LORD’s, ~ the LORD’s her fullness is:
The world, and all that dwell therein, ~ by sovereign right are his.
2 He framed and fixed it on the seas, ~ and his Almighty hand
Upon the shifting floods has made ~ the stable fabric stand.

3 But for himself this LORD of all ~ one chosen seat designed:
O who shall to that holy hill ~ desired admittance find?
4 Whoso whose hands and heart are pure, ~ whose thoughts from pride are free:
Who honest poverty prefers ~ to gainful perjury.

5 This is the one, on whom the LORD ~ shall shower his blessings down:
Whom God the Saviour shall provide ~ with righteousness to crown
6 Such is the race of saints, by whom ~ the sacred courts are trod:
And such the proselytes that seek ~ the face of Jacob’s God.

7 Lift up your heads, eternal gates, ~ swing back to entertain
The King of Glory; Lo he comes ~ with his celestial train.
8 Who is this king of Glory, Who? ~ the LORD for strength renowned:
In battle mighty, o’er his foes ~ eternal victor crowned.

9 Lift up your heads, ye gates swing back, ~ in state to entertain
The King of Glory; Lo he comes ~ with all his shining train.
10 Who is this king of Glory, Who? ~ the LORD of hosts renowned:
Of glory he alone is king, ~ and is with glory crowned.

The photograph at the top is of some gates in Winster in  Derbyshire. It comes from the Geograph website and was taken by David Napier.  It is a requirement of using photographs from this site that I include a link to the Creative Commons licence that authorises one to use them.


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