Cassian’s Shield

God! Come to my aid! O Lord make haste to help me.

Psalm 70 v 1


According to John Cassian this opening verse of Psalm 70 is ‘the sturdiest of shields’ against the onslaughts of demons (Conferences X para 10). Being frequently in need of such a device myself I tried singing these words but found that intoning them as a Gregorian chant seemed to rob them of their power; it felt more like emotional repression to do so. I decided to create my own setting.

The result has some affinity with the Welcome Prayer practice in which the first step is to sink in i.e. recognise the inner turmoil of the moment and experience it at the most visceral level. Only then is it safe to accept it and let it go.

The mention of ‘steps’ above would imply that the chant falls naturally into two phrases but I think it’s more effective if you sing it in a single breath. I’ve put a slur between the last two notes of the first bar to emphasise this. Put all the tension in the first bar and release it in the second. You can be as free as you like with the timing.

Of course, this chant could also be used as an antiphon in singing the whole Psalm.

Listen to Soprano Part


Listen to Alto Part


Listen to Tenor Part


Listen to Bass Part



Choral Score PDF

Keyboard Score PDF

MP3 Audio