Can the Dead Rise Up to Praise? (Psalm 88)

by Chris Juby

Lyrics

O God of my salvation
Do you not hear?
My soul is full of trouble
And death is near
You sunk me to the bottom
Among the dead
Your wrath is heavy on me
I have no friend

Can the dead rise up to praise?
Sing of mercy from the grave?
Is your faithfulness proclaimed
Even in the darkest place?

I cry in prayer before you
You hide your face
Your wrath has overwhelmed me
I can't escape
Your terrors have destroyed me
They flood the day
All those who ever loved me
Are far away

But I cry out to you
Every morning I pray
Will you shut out my soul?
Will you still turn away?

© 2014 Chris Juby
CCLI #7031204 · Online Reporting

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Story

I challenged myself to write a congregational song based on Psalm 88, famously the bleakest psalm in Scripture. The process taught me a lot about how this kind of psalm functions as faithful worship.

The lyrics closely follow the lines of Psalm 88. I took the middle series of questions and made them a chorus, which somehow give comfort even as they're never answered and the psalm never resolves to explicit trust in God. Perhaps that's because they are so obviously engaged by the themes of the New Testament.

Notes for Worship Leaders

I actually haven't used this with a congregation yet, although I know others have. An uncompromising theme.

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Bifrost Arts recorded a version of this song for their beautiful 2016 album 'Lamentations':

Most of the file links on this page are to the Bifrost version.