The end of January can be a pretty exciting time around here. For one, the annual Calvin Symposium on Worship brings many artists, musicians, pastors, and worshippers from around the world right here to West Michigan. We were delighted to have so many Symposium guests worship with us at Church of the Servant on January 28.
This time is also exciting because it’s when we premiere the winning song from our annual New Psalm Contest. From a pool of many quality entries, Greg Scheer’s “Patiently” became the judges’ unanimous top choice. Its melody is memorable and easily singable. The opening bars, with the repeated melodic motif and the harmonic movement away from D all gave a sense of waiting for something to happen. This was augmented by the unusual choice of beginning the song with an adverb – “patiently.” It perfectly expressed in text and music the hopeful (yet not entirely confident) sense in the Psalm of waiting for the Lord’s presence or action.
As Greg Scheer writes of his winning song:
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.
We were also delighted to have Greg join us for worship and lead us in singing “Patiently” during the morning worship service.
Listen to Greg Scheer and the congregation of Church of the Servant singing “Patiently”: