Come Down, God (Ps 86:1-7)

Psalm 86:1-7

Composition, lyrics and audio © Alexander Massey, 8 May 2012

Although the lyrics for this are based very closely on the first half of Psalm 86, this song was originally written as a nigun (wordless melody), inspired by a tune sung to me by my friend David Paskett. As I wrote, I found a musical logic emerging, whereby the last few notes of each phrase or half phrase are repeated as the first few notes of the next, giving the piece its particular feeling of internal echoes. When done with words, this rhetorical device is called anadiplosis. I have applied the idea to both the melody and rhyme schemes instead; and the internal rhyme schemes match the internal rhymes of the music.  The repetitions suit the insistent message of the words, with the speaker pleading to be heard, and helped.

Come down, God, near me.
Hear me;
I’m breaking,
Aching
For You.
Touch my heart; I trust You.
Must You
Hurt me,
Desert me?
God please help me; I cry all day long.
I am not strong.
I need peace,
Release
From my despair.
God, are You there?

Show me You care,
You share
The strain,
The pain
With me.
Please, will You feel,
Heal
My soul,
This empty hole?
I am begging now; and I wonder, will You hear me call?
Don’t let me fall.
Only You can do this,
See me through this.
Your love restores.
I am Yours.

Despite the speaker’s expectation that God will hear, the feeling of the music is that this may not happen. There is a surprise in the music though – when sung wordlessly, the nigun can work as a call and answer tune, the listener responding each time with the last few notes they hear of each phrase: God’s answer to our call can often come through human relationship, and the answer of the Other.

Performance notes:
  1. I present this song first as a nigun, demonstrating the internal echoes.
  2. Then I sing the song itself, so that the words with music can unfold for the listener. The music and words together tend to emphasise yearning and loneliness, and the sense that God may not be responding.
  3. Afterwards, the singer can lead others present in the call and response nigun version, where those responding sing the echo motifs. The singer can indicate where these are by hand signals on the motifs ending their own phrases (shown by the square brackets above the music), and hand signals to conduct the same motifs that start each response (shown by square brackets below the music). This call-response version can be done in quite free time.
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