Psalm 46

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Beginning of Psalm 46 in Hebrew
Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 5101, oldest copy of Psalm 46.

Psalm 46 is the 46th psalm from the Book of Psalms,[1][2][3][4][5] composed by sons of Korah.

The psalm is credited to the sons of Korah mentioned in 2 Chronicles 20:19. In the introductory statement the tune is said to be based on "after the manner of virgins" but there has been some debate about whether this is the name of a familiar tune or a Hebrew expression for using high voices.[6]


The Psalm is composed of four parts:

  1. Verse 1: Designation of the sons of Korah as authors and reference to the manner of performance
  2. Verse 2-4: Confession of trust of the community, even if the creation were sinking into chaos
  3. Verse 5-8: View of the undisturbed security of the city of God, which can not be shaken by the attack from outside
  4. Verse 9-12: Looking back on the victory of God and on his peacemaking power.

In verses 8 and 12, a is chorus repeated. This chorus was originally probably between verses 4 and 5, but probably fell off by a Abschreibefehlellllll.[7]



Portions of the psalm are used or referenced in several Jewish prayers. Verse 8 is the ninth verse of V'hu Rachum in Pesukei Dezimra,[8] and is also a part of Uva Letzion.[9] Verse 12 is part of Havdalah.[10][11] Yemenite Jews include it as part of Yehi Kivod.[12]


This psalm was traditionally recited or sung at the office of matins mardi[13] after St. Benedict of Nursia established his rule of St. Benedict around 530, mainly in numerical order of psaumes[14]

Today, Psalm 46 is sung or recited at Vespers on Friday the first semaine.[15]


Barack Obama has referenced the psalm in several speeches, most notably the Tucson memorial speech and his speech on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.


Luther's A Mighty Fortress

Martin Luther wrote and composed a hymn which paraphrases Psalm 46, called "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God".

A cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach is based on Psalm 46, and Ludwig Hailmann wrote the Reformation era song "Praise God, ye pious Christians, rejoice with David, the psalmist".[16] In the 17th century, the composer Johann Pachelbel wrote a motet from Psalm 46 called ist unser Gott und Zuversicht Stärcke, and in 1699, Michel-Richard Delalande also composed his grand motet based on the Psalm and Jean Philippe Rameau also used this Psalm for his "Grands Motets"

Shakespeare's alleged involvement[edit]

For several decades, some theorists have suggested William Shakespeare placed his mark on the translated text of Psalm 46 that appears in the King James Bible, although many scholars view this as unlikely, stating that the translations were probably agreed upon by a committee of scholars.[17] The 46th word from the beginning of Psalm 46 is "shake" and the 46th word from the end (omitting the liturgical mark "Selah") is "spear" ("speare" in the original spelling). Shakespeare was in King James' service during the preparation of the King James Bible, and was generally considered to be 46 years old in 1611 when the translation was completed.

The 1560 Geneva Bible version of Psalm 46 has the words "shake" and "speare" in the similar positions, so it is possible that the presence of Shakespeare's name is merely a coincidence. However, since the King James Version is just a heavy edit of the Geneva Bible, the intentional edit to align the words "shake" and "speare" in order to insert the editor's signature surreptitiously is quite possible.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Commentaires sur les psaumes, d’Hilaire de Poitiers, (Paris, Éditions du Cerf, 2008), collection sources chrétiennes n°515,
  2. ^ Commentaries of the Psalms, by saint John Chrysostom
  3. ^ Discourse of the Psalmes, by Saint Augustin, vol. 2 (Sagesses chrétiennes)
  4. ^ Commentary (jusqu’au psaume 54), by saint Thomas Aquinas, (Éditions du Cerf, 1273)
  5. ^ John Calvin, Commentaries des psalms, 1557
  6. ^ Stuttgarter Erklärungsbibel. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart,(1992) p. 699f.
  7. ^ Die Bibel mit Erklärungen. ISBN 3-7461-0069-0, 3. (Evangelische Haupt-Bibelgesellschaft, Berlin 1993).
  8. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 63
  9. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 157
  10. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 619
  11. ^ D’après le Complete Artscroll Siddur, compilation des prières juives.
  12. ^ Jewish liturgy and its development By Abraham Zebi Idelsohn, page 82
  13. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, (2003) p. 189.
  14. ^ Prosper Guéranger, Règle de saint Benoît, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, 2007). p46
  15. ^ Le cycle principal des prières liturgiques se déroule sur quatre semaines.
  16. ^ Rudolf Köhler, Handbuch zum Evangelischen Kirchengesangbuch vol II. (Die biblischen Quellen der Lieder, Berlin 1964), p. 325f.
  17. ^ Susan Gillingham (2012). Psalms Through The Centuries. John Wiley & Sons. p. 238. ISBN 978-0470674901. 

External links[edit]

  • Works related to Psalms at Wikisource