Insights from A Graphical Analysis of the Psalms

April 21, 2020

A comparative graphical analysis of the number of words in each Psalm provides valuable insight into some truths about the songs that God has given us to sing. It also helps us to evaluate in helpful ways the other songs that we esteem highly.

Total Words in Each Psalm

This graph strikingly shows how much longer Psalm 119 is from all the other Psalms in the total number of words it has compared to them!


Psalm 119 has almost twice as many words as the next longest Psalm (Psalm 119 – 2445; Psalm 78 – 1228). Noting the great length of Psalm 119, we learn that singing some songs that are much longer than the vast majority of our songs is biblical.

 

Number of Psalms with Total Number of Words

A comparison of the number of Psalms within the ranges of total number of words specified in the graph below provides additional information to us about the songs that God has given us to sing.

This graph reveals that 10% (15/150) of the Psalms have 500 or more words, which means that 90% (135/150) of the Psalms are shorter than 500 words.

Moreover, 66% (99/150) of the Psalms are shorter than 300 words. The ten shortest Psalms (6.7%) have fewer than 100 words.

Psalms Compared with “The Greatest/Best Sacred Songs of All Time”

Through a recent informal survey of friends and some other brethren, I compiled a list of what they thought was the greatest/best sacred song of all time that was not in the Bible. Comparing the total number of words in these top songs with the Psalms reveals some interesting facts.

Of 20 songs named in the survey that have been sung frequently in churches, all were under 300 words. Fifteen (75%) of the songs were under 200 words; five (25%) were between 200-299.1

This data suggests that our current sacred songs are roughly in keeping with the majority of Psalms in the total number of words that they have.

Application

This graphical analysis of the Psalms and a comparison of the Psalms with 20 sacred songs considered to be among the greatest/best of all time leads me to think that we need to work on writing more top-notch songs that are longer and that we need to sing more of such songs. In fact, we need to sing some songs that are much longer than the vast majority of the songs that we currently esteem very highly.

We also need to keep in mind that it is biblical to sing songs that are quite short! We should learn from this aspect of the Psalms to sing such songs more often than most of us probably do in our services.

Let us allow these insights to direct us to glorify God all the more in our singing in our churches!


1 Songs under 200 words: Amazing Grace; Be Thou My Vision; Blessed Assurance; Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing; For All the Saints; Great Is Thy Faithfulness; Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions; Holy, Holy, Holy; How Sweet and Awful Is the Place; Jesus Paid It All; Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness; O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing!; Praise Ye the Lord!; Psalm 100 (All People That on Earth Do Dwell)

Songs with 200-299 words: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God; And Can It Be?; Great God of Wonders; How Great Thou Art; It Is Well with My Soul

Rajesh

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