Psalm 53: Fools Deny Their God within Them


Adam Carlill’s metrical rendering of Psalm 53, from his excellent Psalms for the Common Era, retains the Psalm’s difficult themes but uses language that allows us to enter into them more easily. My tune accompanies the text with a Baroque-flavor that is off the beaten path, but still accessible, with a simple melody surrounded by harmonies and a bass line that scurry to and fro with all the fury of Psalm 53’s evildoers. The final half verse shifts to a major key, letting the accusations and anger of the previous verses give way to a final note of hope.

Sheet music for voice and piano.

words by Adam Carlill
music by Greg Scheer
copyright 2020
CCLI #7166946
OneLicense #97196

1. Fools deny their God within them,
while they work unrighteous mayhem;
there is no-one virtuous.

Then our God from heaven descended,
and our nature comprehended:
was there thought or thirst for God?

2. All have gone astray together,
fraudulent in their endeavour,
no-one upright here at all.

Wicked-doers have no knowledge,
as they swallow those in bondage.
They do not proclaim their God.

3. All the wicked shall be daunted,
and by fear and terror haunted,
shattered bones and empty camps.

You, my God, have scorned the vicious,
and their cruel, vain, ambitious
plans; you have rejected them.

4. Who will give relief from Zion,
freeing captives from their prison?
May his people all rejoice!