Dogs have compassed me about
Consider Nathan Wilson’s Empire of Bones, a fun and swashbuckling young adult novel (part of a series, not yet complete) that has a major character singing Psalm 22, singing it joyously—for the joy set before him, as he gives his life in the hope of saving others. With a small quote it’s impossible to capture the intense build-up that has brought the book and series to this point, but here is the bittersweet moment:
Surrounded completely, the Captain’s blade was still fast enough to keep the ring from closing. He laughed as he fought, and his smile was as grim as any reaper’s. And then he began to sing. His accent and his effort slurred his words, but Diana recognized the song. Her own mother sang it in the kitchen, and her happiness in the singing always belied the sorrow of the words.
The Captain sang and he danced and he slashed the ring around him. He sang even when Radu’s chain found his legs and lightning forked from the links and felled him. He sang as the transmortals tore the blade from his hand, grabbed his wrists, and stretched his shaking oak-strong arms out from his sides.
He was singing as they tore off his breastplate, and singing as Rupert pulled Diana back from the rail, away from what was about to happen.
“You are no immortal,” Radu spat. “You are a beggar with a scrap of Odyssean Cloak hidden beneath your skin.”
“Their mouths they opened wide on me,” the Captain sang. “Upon me gape did they, like to a lion ravening and roaring for his prey. For dogs have compassed me about; they pierced my—”
The Captain’s voice broke into a shout of pain, and then he sang on, louder still, filling the vaults with what sounded like triumph, like joy.
John Smith was ready to sail.
Diana shook as Rupert pulled her away. But she heard the beastly snarl as the scrap of Odyssean Cloak was taken from inside the Captain’s chest. She heard a blade sing. The snarling stopped. Mocking laughter began.
He is even strung out in the shape of a cross.