Do Not Keep Silent, O God

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Our songs and prayers include honesty before God in which we express the pain we experience over our own sins and failures, the difficulties in both our lives and others’ lives, and our laments at the suffering and brokenness that marks our world and our lives. We have assurance, says Belgic Confession, Article 26, that Christ, our intercessor, will hear us, “since he suffered, being tempted, he is also able to help those who are tempted.”


We are encouraged to approach the throne with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Belgic Confession, Article 26, based on Hebrews 4). “We grieve that the church…has become a broken communion in a broken world” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 40).

We also “lament that our abuse of creation has brought lasting damage to the world we have been given...” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 51). And we cry to God for those who suffer in our world, knowing “that God…is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged...” (Belhar Confession, Section 4).


Do Not Keep Silent, O God

Additional Prayers

Sovereign God, the nations seek no glory but their own.
Reveal to all the mystery of your will from before the foundations of the world.
In the fullness of time, unite all things in heaven and on earth,
in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

Do Not Keep Silent, O God

Tune Information

c minor


Musical Suggestion

John Bell commends this setting as a community lament—a protest song in which the people of God ask that those who are not merely political enemies but the enemies of heaven might be put down. The stanzas could be sung by a solo voice, but since this is a community lament, they should be sung by several people (e.g., men and women alternating). For the stanzas, the pulse is maintained and the text is chanted within these half-note pulses. The dissonance at the last chord of the verses is intentional.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

Do Not Keep Silent, O God

Hymn Story/Background

This setting is one of 24 psalm settings by John L. Bell published in 1993 by the Iona Community in Scotland and available in North America through GIA Publications.  In the Introduction to that collection, John Bell writes,
One of the greatest slurs on the 150 Old Testament poems known collectively and affectionately as The Psalms is to call them “praise songs.” This not only shows a frightening blindness to the content of the poems, it also belittles the experience of Jesus Christ.  When, on the cross, he used the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”” was he singing a happy chorus?  .... In this era of history, when the ending of the Cold War and global awareness of international disorders have not ensured that the world is safer or less hungry, or its wealthy inhabitants more fulfilled, it may be that we have to learn to use these ancient words in ways that will ensure our present-day apprehensions and pains are offered to God as earnestly as our most exuberant praise.
Bell also mentioned that the Wild Goose Worship Group had collaborated with him in the writing of these very diverse psalm settings, so that the work is communal.
— Emily Brink

Author and Composer Information

The Iona Community is an ecumenical Christian group of men and women based on the small island of Iona off the coast of Scotland. The community began in 1938 when the Rev. George MacLeod of the Church of Scotland began a ministry among the unemployed poor who had been neglected by the church. He took a handful of men to the island to rebuild the ruins of a thousand-year-old abbey church. That rebuilding became a metaphor for the rebuilding of the common life, a return to the belief that daily activity is the stuff of godly service—work, and worship.  The Community has since grown to include a group of members, associates, and friends all over the United Kingdom and many other contries. In addition to many conferences that attract people to Iona from around the world, the Community is known for its publishing of new songs and prayers for worship, both developed in community and gathered from around the world. For more information on the Iona Community, check their website: www.iona.org.uk. John Bell is probably the community’s most well-known member, having composed and arranged much of the community’s music.
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