Hear O Lord (the sound of my call)

This song was written by American social justice advocate and at-the-time Roman Catholic seminarian, Ray Repp (b ), based on Psalm 51.

It was included in the Mass for Young Americans which was first recorded in 1965 by Friends of English in the Liturgy (FEL), and copyright was registered in 1966 by Otter Creek Music.

Books where it was published include:

The unnamed tune was published with a 4/4 time-signature - although some American writers have stated that it is often sung as though it is in 3/4 time.   Reviewing the versions on YouTube shows that there are regional variations in the tune.  It also shows that the song that it has travelled well beyond the American Roman Catholic 1970s folk groups movement - with various reggae and steel band arrangements, and enthusiastic singing by children in the Caribbean.

When the tune is written down in the key of C, the first few notes are G E C CA AGG G. Guitar chords are available here.

There are also some major variations in the lyrics of the verses.   As can be see below, while the chorus has remained the same, there have been different versions of the verses published.   The copyright status of the non-original verses is unclear.
No current published sources of the sheet music have been located.  Second-hand copies of the two books mentioned above are sometimes available on Amazon ( UK/Ireland - rest of the world) - and these are perhaps the only sources of sheet music today.

This song It should not be confused with the song by Doris and Tom Howard, which has the same title but is a setting of Psalm 86 ("Hear O Lord and answer, I am poor and needy").



Original recording:

Early 21st-century contemporary solo singer, with guitar:

Solo singer with guitar and backing:

Choir and congregation, piano backing:

Recording by a Dixieland group with steel band:

Instrumental - steel band:

Children's choir from Jamacia - piano backing:


It has been difficult to determine the original / approved lyrics.   Some of the options which are located are show below.     In each case, the chorus is the same, but the verses vary widely.    Some take the song from being a psalm of petition to one of praise, while others most-or-less name Christ even though the song is presented as a psalm.

Lyrics from the Hymnal for Young Christians publication:
Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call;
Hear, O Lord and have mercy
My soul is longing for
the glory of you.
O hear, O Lord and answer me.

Ev’ry night before I sleep
I pray my soul to take,
Or else I pray that loneliness
Is gone when I awake.

Why do I no longer feel like
I’ve a place to stay?
O take me where someone will care,
So fear will go away.

In you, O Lord, I place my cares,
And all my troubles too.
O grant, dear Lord, that some day soon
I’ll live in peace with you.

An alternative set of lyrics, apparently based on Psalm 26, were widely used in New Zealand during the 1970s. They can now be found in documents like this and appear to be popular for funerals. The author and source of these words is unknown.
1 For the Lord is my light and strength
So whom have I to fear.
He watches o’er my life below
In Him alone I trust.

2 One thing I ask of you O Lord,
Just one thing I implore
To live all my days in the house of the Lord,
To be at peace with you.

3 Now my head is raised on high,
I sing and make music for him,
And so I offer in his tent
A sacrifice of joy.

Verse lyrics which were used in the UK publication, and credited as "Composite"
We are but members of one house,
One brotherhood we claim.
Lord accept this joyful praise,
To the glory of your name. 
We pray your life will grow in us,
Which you alone can give.
We pray your life will strengthen us,
In love we wish to live. 
We stand around your altar Lord
To share a common meal.
Our love had brought us here today,
For love makes symbols real.

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1 comment:

  1. The lyrics I remember are the ones in his original recording, which are slightly different -- tho the first verse is totally different.


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