Unto the Hills (Psalm 121)

“Unto the Hills” is a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 121 by John D. Campbell, who was a British nobleman and the fourth Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883.

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) says in his commentary on the Bible, “Some call this [Psalm 121] the soldier’s psalm, and think it was penned in the camp, when David was hazarding his life in the high places of the field, and thus trusted God to cover his head in the day of battle. Others call it the traveller’s psalm (for there is nothing in it of military dangers) and think David penned it when he was going abroad, and designed it pro vehiculo — for the carriage, for a good man’s convoy and companion in a journey or voyage.”

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) likewise says of Psalm 121, “From the constant recurrence of the word ‘keep,’ we are led to name this song ‘a Psalm to the keeper of Israel.’ Were it not placed among the Pilgrim Psalms we should regard it as a martial hymn, fitted for the evensong of one who slept upon the tented field. It is a soldier’s song as well as a traveller’s hymn. There is an ascent in the psalm itself which rises to the greatest elevation of restful confidence.”

Campbell paraphrases the psalm 121:

Unto the hills around do I lift up
my longing eyes:
O whence for me shall my salvation come,
from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord who heaven and earth hath made.

God will not suffer that thy foot be moved;
safe shalt thou be.
No careless slumber shall His eyelids close
who keepeth thee.
The One who sleepeth not,
who slumbereth ne’er,
shall guard thee, Israel, with most holy care.

Jehovah is Himself thy keeper true,
thy changeless shade;
Jehovah thy defence on thy right hand,
thine own true aid.
And thee no sun by day shall ever smite;
no moon shall harm thee in the silent night.

From every evil shall God keep thy soul,
from every sin;
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out,
thy coming in.
Above thee watching, God whom we adore
shall keep thee henceforth, yea, for evermore.

Here, Campbell’s paraphrase of Psalm 121 is given a newly composed setting for SATB choir and piano.

Upon purchase, you may download and print the score, then make additional copies in a quantity sufficient for your ensemble. Please see our Copyright page for additional information.

Reproducible SATB/piano score (8.5×11″) — $18