Psalm 138

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Psalm 138
"I will praise thee with my whole heart"
Hymn psalm
Folio 84r - Psalm CXXXVII.jpg
The beginning of Psalm 138, Hymne d'action de grâce, folio 84 of Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, musée Condé, ms.65. The miniature represents a religious spraying holy water on a dignitary who had just entered his church.
Other name
  • Psalm 137 (Vulgate)
  • "Confitebor tibi Domine in toto corde meo"
Language Hebrew (original)

Psalm 138 is the 138th psalm of the Book of Psalms, generally known in English by its first verse, "I will praise thee with my whole heart" (King James Version). The Book of Psalms is the third section of the Hebrew Bible,[1] and a book of the Christian Old Testament. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 137 in a slightly different numbering system. In Latin, it is known as "Confitebor tibi Domine in toto corde meo".[2] The psalm is a hymn psalm.[3]

The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant liturgies. It has been set to music often, by composers such as Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Schütz, Michel Richard Delalande, Josef Rheinberger and Stefans Grové.

History and content[edit]

Psalm 138 is the 138th psalm from the Book of Psalms, which is the first book of the Ketuvim ("Writings") in the Hebrew Bible, and is also a book of the Christian Old Testament.[4] It is part of the final Davidic collection of psalms, comprising Psalms 138 through 145, which are specifically attributed to David in the first verse.[5][6] However, Dunn and Rogerson assert that the psalm was written as an expression of thankfulness after the return from exile in Babylon.[7] This particular psalm describes that those who are close to God live in reality, and those who believe in human power live in a world of fantasy.[8]

The singer begins with individual thanks for God's lasting love and care. The hope that it will endure forever ends the psalm, framing the middle section which first calls to universal thanks and praise, and then mentions ongoing adversaries and trouble which the singer is sure to overcome with God's help.[9]


Hebrew Bible version[edit]

The Hebrew text and an English translation of Psalm 138 are as follows:[10]

Verse Hebrew English
1 לְדָוִ֨ד | אֽוֹדְךָ֥ בְכָל־לִבִּ֑י נֶ֖גֶד אֱלֹהִ֣ים אֲזַמְּרֶֽךָּ Of David. I shall thank You with all my heart; before the princes I shall sing Your praises.
2 אֶשְׁתַּֽחֲוֶ֨ה אֶל־הֵיכַ֪ל קָדְשְׁךָ֡ וְא֘וֹדֶ֚ה אֶת־שְׁמֶ֗ךָ עַל־חַסְדְּךָ֥ וְעַל־אֲמִתֶּ֑ךָ כִּֽי־הִגְדַּ֥לְתָּ עַל־כָּל־שִׁ֜מְךָ֗ אִמְרָתֶֽךָ I shall prostrate myself toward Your holy Temple, and I shall give thanks to Your name for Your kindness and for Your truth, for You magnified Your word over all Your names.
3 בְּי֣וֹם קָ֖רָאתִי וַֽתַּֽעֲנֵ֑נִי תַּרְהִבֵ֖נִי בְנַפְשִׁ֣י עֹֽז On the day that I called and You answered me; You made me great, [putting] strength into my soul.
4 יוֹד֣וּךָ יְהֹוָה כָּל־מַלְכֵי־אָ֑רֶץ כִּ֥י שָֽׁ֜מְע֗וּ אִמְרֵי־פִֽיךָ O Lord, all the kings of the earth will acknowledge You, for they heard the words of Your mouth.
5 וְיָשִׁירוּ בְּדַרְכֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה כִּ֥י גָ֜ד֗וֹל כְּב֣וֹד יְהֹוָֽה And they will sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 כִּ֚י רָ֣ם יְ֖הֹוָה וְשָׁפָ֣ל יִרְאֶ֑ה וְגָבֹ֖הַּ מִמֶּרְחָ֥ק יְיֵדָֽע For the Lord is high but He sees the lowly, and He chastises the haughty from afar.
7 אִם־אֵלֵ֚ךְ | בְּקֶ֥רֶב צָרָ֗ה תְּחַ֫יֵּ֥נִי עַ֚ל אַ֣ף אֹֽ֖יְבַי תִּשְׁלַ֣ח יָדֶ֑ךָ וְת֖וֹשִׁיעֵ֣נִי יְמִינֶֽךָ If I walk in the midst of distress, You revive me; against the wrath of my enemies, You stretch forth Your hand and Your right hand saves me.
8 יְהֹוָה֘ יִגְמֹ֪ר בַּֽ֫עֲדִ֥י יְ֖הֹוָה חַסְדְּךָ֣ לְעוֹלָ֑ם מַֽעֲשֵׂ֖י יָדֶ֣יךָ אַל־תֶּֽרֶף May the Lord agree with me; O Lord, may Your kindness be eternal. Do not let go of the works of Your hands.

King James Version[edit]

  1. [A Psalm] of David.
I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
  1. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
  2. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
  3. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD,[11] when they hear the words of thy mouth.
  4. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD.
  5. Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.
  6. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
  7. The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.



Psalm 138 is traditionally recited as a psalm of thanks and gratitude to God.[12][13]

Verse 2 is recited during Selichot.[14]

Verse 4 is the verse said by the mule in Perek Shirah.[15]

Verses 3 and 8 are recited at the end of the Amidah by people whose names begin with the first letter of the verse and end with the last letter of the verse.[14]


Historically, this psalm was recited or sung at the office of Vespers on Wednesday, according to the Rule of St. Benedict.[16][17] In the Liturgy of Hours, Psalm 138 is recited at Vespers of Tuesday of the fourth semaine.[18] Moreover, in the liturgy of the Mass, it is played on the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time of the year,[19] the 5th and the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time of the year.

Musical settings[edit]

The psalm appeared in a rhymed version in the hymnal Genevan Psalter in the 1551 edition. German versions on the same melody, "Mein ganzes Herz erhebet dich", were published from the 18th century, and are part of Protestant and Catholic hymnals.

Heinrich Schütz set Psalm 138 in German, "Aus meines Herzens Grunde" (From the bottom of my heart) as part of his settings of the Becker Psalter, published in 1628, SWV 243.[20] Michel Richard Delalande set the psalm in Latin, "Confitebor tibi Domine in toto corde meo", S.48, for voices and orchestra in 1697.[21] Henri Desmarets composed a setting for soloists, a five-part choir and orchestra in 1707.[22] Josef Rheinberger composed a four-part setting in Latin- "Confitebor tibi Domine" as No. 4 of his Fünf Motetten (Five motets), Op. 163, in 1885.[23] The South African composer Stefans Grové wrote a setting for children's choir, choir, African drums, marimba, and string orchestra in 2002.[24]


  1. ^ Mazor 2011, p. 589.
  2. ^ Parallel Latin/English Psalter / Psalmus 137 (138) Archived 2017-05-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Pankhurst 2018.
  4. ^ Commentaires of the psalms, Hilaire de Poitiers, IVe siècle, Paris, Éditions du Cerf, 2008
  5. ^ Lama, A. K. (2013). Reading Psalm 145 with the Sages: A Compositional Analysis. Langham Monographs. p. 3. ISBN 9781907713354. 
  6. ^ Schaefer, Konrad (2016). Berit Olam: Psalms. Liturgical Press. p. 19. ISBN 9780814682173. 
  7. ^ Dunn & Rogerson 2003, p. 431.
  8. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim page 298
  9. ^ Dunn & Rogerson 2003, p. 430.
  10. ^ "Tehillim - Psalms - Chapter 138". 2018. Retrieved July 22, 2018. . Translation by Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg.
  11. ^ In the King James Version, the use of small capitals in LORD means that the Hebrew Text contains the proper name Yhwh here, translated as "Lord" following an ancient Jewish and Christian liturgical practice.
  12. ^ Weintraub, Rabbi Simkha Y. (2018). "Psalms as the Ultimate Self-Help Tool". Retrieved July 22, 2018. 
  13. ^ Geduld, Herb (September 27, 2017). "Tehillim in the cornerstone of our liturgy". Cleveland Jewish News. Retrieved July 22, 2018. 
  14. ^ a b Brauner, Reuven (2013). Shimush Pesukim: Comprehensive Index to Liturgical and Ceremonial Uses of Biblical Verses and Passages (PDF) (2nd ed.). p. 50. 
  15. ^ Slifkin, Nosson (2003). "Perek Shirah" (PDF). Retrieved July 22, 2018. 
  16. ^ Règle de saint Benoît, traduction de Prosper Guéranger, p. 47, réimpression 2007
  17. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, p. 516, 1938/2003.
  18. ^ Le cycle principal des prières liturgiques se déroule sur quatre semaines.
  19. ^ Le cycle des lectures des messes du dimanche se déroule sur trois ans.
  20. ^ Becker Psalter, Op.5 (Schütz, Heinrich): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
  21. ^ Confitebor tibi Domine in toto corde meo, S.48 (Lalande, Michel Richard de): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
  22. ^ Confitebor tibi Domine (Desmarets, Henri)): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
  23. ^ Confitebor tibi Domine / aus: Fünf Motetten /op. 163, 4, 1885 Carus
  24. ^ Stephanus Muller, Chris Walton (eds.): A Composer in Africa: Essays on the Life and Work of Stefans Grové p. 124

Cited sources[edit]

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