Psalm 63

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Psalm 63 is the 63rd psalm from the Book of Psalms. It was written by David. It is about being stranded in the wilderness away from one's family.[1]


The Psalm is composed of two parts: a tutoiement of God by the psalmist from verse 2 to 9, then wishes of vengeance formulated in the third person in the last three verses. The first part, more developed, evokes desire, praise and then trust in God. The image of the arid earth does not express the absence of God as in other psalms, but rather the aspiration to meet. Confidence is then expressed by the symbolism of the protective bird. Perhaps also the wings recall the wings of the kerubim on the ark of the covenant, these representing the Lord.

The change is evident in verse 10. There is now talk of vengeance towards the enemies of the psalmist, and some may evade this disconcerting psalm end. It is a question of a king in the last verse. Perhaps it is the psalmist himself, or a way of extending his prayer to the community. There is such a cry of vengeance in the book of Jeremiah.[2]



This psalm was already chosen by St Benedict of Nursia around 530, as the fourth and last psalm during the solemn office at the Sunday laudes (Rule of St. Benedict, chapter XI).[3]).

Psalm 63 is still recited every Sunday at the Lauds by priests and religious communities, according to the liturgy of the Hours. In the triennial cycle of the Sunday Mass, it is read on the 22nd and 32nd Sundays of the ordinary time of the year A6, and the 12th Sunday of the ordinary time of the year C.[4]


Czech composer Antonín Dvořák set part of Psalm 63 (together with part of Psalm 61) as No. 6 of his Biblical Songs (1894). At the end of the 17th century, Michel-Richard de Lalande wrote a work in Latin according to this psalm (S.20). It is one of the great motets in order to celebrate the services at the royal chapel of the Château de Versailles, for the Sun King Louis XIV.


  1. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim page 128
  2. ^ Voir Jérémie 11, 20.
  3. ^ Traduction par Dom Prosper Guéranger, p. 40, Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression 2007
  4. ^ Le cycle de lecture des messes du dimanche de déroule sur trois ans.