Save Me, O God

Laments and penitential Psalms often contain imagery of intense suffering and deep despair. Psalm 69 is no exception, and perhaps one of the most despondant.

This Davidic Psalm is messianic, prophesying Christ’s suffering with phrases like, “I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.” The intesity of this despair is portrayed in the music with slow-moving and plaintive harmonies. The surprising harmonic shifts serve to punctuate the sharp pains—emotional and physical—experienced by the author. But there is a turning point, like many other Psalms. The focus shifts from the author and his personal struggles to God and his benevolance. The music picks up on this shift in mood, becoming less dissonant and more optimistic. The work closes with a gradual descent as the text “save me, O God” is repeated again and again, emphasizing the stability and comfort the author experiences when reaching out to his God.

Score Sample




3 minutes




Psalm 69:1–3, 16 (King James Version)

Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing:
I am come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
I am weary of my crying: My throat is dried:
Mine eyse fail while I wait for my God
Hear Me, O Lord; for they lovingkindness is good:
Turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.


May 17, 2015
Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA
Tenth Church Choir, Thomas Hong (cond.)