Psalm 40: Patiently


This meditative rendering of Psalm 40 won the 2017 Church of the Servant New Psalm Contest. You can read the whole story below.

Let me tell you the history of Psalm 40. Well, not the complete history; that stretches back a few millennia. But I can tell you the history of my musical rendition of Psalm 40; that only goes back two decades. I wrote the song in 1998 and made a demo of it around that time. In 2012, while working with the Choral Scholars on Cry Out to God!, we recorded the song using a new SATB and piano arrangement. In 2017, I entered the song in the Church of the Servant New Psalm Contest; lo and behold, it won! For the premiere, I wrote an arrangement for SATB Choir, Congregation, Piano, Flute, Violin, Accordion, and Flugelbone. (Yes, flugelbone. It’s like a flugelhorn, but in trombone range.) Here’s what I wrote about it for the January 28, 2018 premiere:

You may think that U2 has the corner on the Psalm 40 song market, but I would humbly suggest that there’s room for one more.

I wrote “Patiently” while I was working at a church in Tallahassee. Frankly, it was something of a desert experience for me. Psalm 40 expressed well both my complaints and hope. I love how the Psalm ties together proclamations of God’s good deeds, prayers for salvation, confession of sin, and even a prayer that God would shame the Psalmist’s enemies.

Bible study usually leads to music for me, so I began working on an idea for a song based on the Psalm. It was the first time I had tried to set a whole Psalm to music. At the time I didn’t know much about metrical and responsorial psalmody, I just knew that I liked how the music fit each verse and that it sounded good when the chorus kept coming back. Even though this song is not likely to make its way to the top of the CCLI charts, I was pleased that the contest judges felt it was a faithful and helpful musical rendering of the scripture.

I have a fond memory of a difficult afternoon on which I took a long walk through the hot Florida woods with this song keeping me company. I hope you find it returning to your mind, as well.

words and music by Greg Scheer
from Psalm 40
copyright 1999
CCLI #2929284
OneLicense #125288

Patiently; patiently, I waited for the Lord;
and He turned to me; and He turned to me;
He turned to me and heard my cry.

1. You lifted me from the depths of sin,
and placed my feet on the solid rock.
You filled my mouth with a joyous hymn
of praise and trust to the Lord, my God.

Patiently; patiently, I waited for the Lord…

2. Happy are those who make God their trust,
and turn away from the lies of the proud.
So many wonders you’ve done for us
and you plan more than we could ever count.

Patiently; patiently, I waited for the Lord…

3. No offering and no sacrifice
could satisfy you, my holy Lord,
except the body of Jesus Christ,
who has filled our hearts with the living Word.

Patiently; patiently, I waited for the Lord…

4. I will proclaim your righteousness;
I will not let my lips be sealed.
Declare the depth of your faithfulness,
and your love and truth I will not conceal.

Patiently; patiently, I waited for the Lord…

5. Only your mercy upholds my life;
restore me with your forgiving hand.
Troubles surround me and sin has blinded,
but you will strengthen my heart again.

Patiently; patiently, I waited for the Lord…

6. O Lord, come quickly and keep me safe;
I know you are where my help is found.
May those who taunt me be put to shame
when they see your saving hand reach down.

Patiently; patiently, I waited for the Lord…

7. May those who seek you rejoice, O Lord;
may those who find you be glad and say,
“The Lord’s exalted; God’s help is sure!”
I will wait on you, Lord, do not delay.

Patiently; patiently, I waited for the Lord…