Monthly Archives: December 2013

Omitted from Your Hearts, part 5

Previous items in this series of posts about notable hymns from the gray Psalter Hymnalthat were omitted from Lift Up Your Hearts focused on songs from the 1960s & ’70sPsalm settingsBible songs, and Christmas/Advent songs. The theme of this post is rousing mid-19th Century hymns.

Here are three hymns I imagine singing at a Victorian era YMCA meeting, Salvation Army mission, or Billy Sunday revival.

“Onward Christian Soldiers” (PH87 #522/PH57 #466/HFW #146) is one of only 11 hymns to appear in all three Psalter Hymnals (1934, 1957 & 1987) but not make the cut for Lift Up Your Hearts. According to the Psalter Hymnal Handbook: “Its martial imagery, though drawn from biblical texts such as Ephesians 6:10-18, has often been misinterpreted as militaristic. Thus various opinions exist about the modem usefulness of this text.” Sabine Baring-Gould wrote it as a children’s processional hymn for Pentecost 1864.

“Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” (PH87 #559/PH57 #467) is presumably another victim of its “martial imagery.” Here’s the dramatic story of its creation (again from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook):

George Duffield, Jr.… was inspired to write this text after hearing the dying words of a Presbyterian colleague, Dudley A. Tyng. Ousted from his own congregation for his strong anti-slavery stance, Tyng preached to large crowds in weekday meetings sponsored by the YMCA. … At Tyng’s deathbed, caused by a farm accident in which he lost an arm, Duffield and others asked if he had any final message. Tyng replied, “Tell them to stand up for Jesus!” At Tyng’s memorial service on April 25, 1858, Duffield preached on Ephesians 6:14 and concluded his sermon by reading his new hymn text, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”

“O, Christians Haste” (PH87 #525), a.k.a. “Publish Glad Tidings,” doesn’t have any martial imagery so maybe it’s the soteriology in the first stanza that’s the problem.

O Christians, haste, your mission high fulfilling,
to tell to all the world that God is light,
that he who made all nations is not willing
one soul should perish, lost in shades of night.

The Psalter Hymnal changed “soul” to live “life,” but that still doesn’t sound like Calvinist soteriology. (Some of the original stanzas are even less Reformed.) Mary Ann Thomson’s original title is “O Sion, Haste”; the change to “Christians” is an improvement.

Of these three, I miss “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” the most. Having spent so much time around Anabaptists, I was turned against “Onward Christian Soldiers” long ago. I guess I could take or leave “O, Christians Haste.”

Psalm 112

Psalm 112 (like Psalm 111) is an acrostic wisdom psalm; the first Hebrew letter of each line is a successive letter in the Hebrew alphabet. This device probably made the psalm easier for a Hebrew speaker to memorize, but harder (in my experience) for an English speaker because the logical connections between the lines are less apparent.

For instance, the first four verses of Psalm 112 are about the benefits of fearing the Lord and delighting in his commandments and then verse five goes off in a different direction—it is good to be generous in lending—before getting back to the advantages of righteousness.

For whatever reason, this psalm hasn’t been popular with hymn writers and only one Psalm 112-only versification appears in Psalms for All Seasons or any other CRC hymnal. “How Blest Are Those Who Fear the LORD” (PFAS #112A/LUYH #301/PH87 #112/PH57 #223) is one of the 69 hymns to appear in all three Psalter Hymnals and Lift Up Your Hearts with a consistent tune (MELCOMBE). It appears (with a different tune) in the 1912 Psalter of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, which was the first English-language hymnbook approved for use in the CRC and is the source of many psalm settings in CRC hymnals (39 in LUYH and 48 in PFAS).  However, it originates with the earlier 1887 Psalter (source of 13 hymns in LUYH and 11 in PFAS).

Here is the first stanza of the 1887 version:

How blest the man that fears the Lord,
And makes his law his chief delight;
His seed shall share his great reward,
And on the earth be men of might.

The 1912 version (which appeared in the first two Psalter Hymnals):

How blest the man that fears the Lord,
And greatly loves God’s holy will;
His children share his great reward,
And blessings all their days shall fill.

The 1987 Psalter Hymnal update (which appears in LUYH and PFAS):

How blest are those who fear the LORD
and greatly love God’s holy will.
Their children share their great reward,
and blessings all their days shall fill.

I looked at some other versifications of Psalm 112, including three by Isaac Watts that went out of style before the turn of the 20th Century, and they all sound pretty similar.

However, PFAS does contain a recent Psalm 111 & 112 hymn called “Alleluia! Laud and Blessing” (PFAS #111B), which is set to WEISSE FLAGGEN. (I missed this when we briefly looked at Psalm 112 during our Sunday school class session on Psalm 15.) It’s a paraphrase, not a strict versification, that does justice to the themes of the psalms without including every alphabetical detail. According to the PFAS performance notes: “This free paraphrase by Michael Morgan holds the two psalms together. St. 1, based on Ps. 111, praises God’s wonderful works and faithfulness. St. 2, based on Ps. 112, further recounts God’s gifts to humanity and our obligation to reflect God’s graciousness in how we live. The final stanza reflects both psalms together, emphasizing that it is the fear of the Lord that brings us to wisdom (Ps. 111:10).”

Morgan is a Presbyterian musician and scholar who has written many psalm settings (including 23 found in PFAS and 16 in LUYH). These include “O Shepherd, Hear and Guide Your Flock” (PFAS #80C/LUYH #64), which we sang at Trinity during the fourth week of Advent as our Psalm 80 setting, and “Trees” (PFAS #I), based on tree references in Psalms 1, 26, 52 & 92, which is our Sunday school class’ opening song.

Psalms for All Seasons does include a Psalm 112 responsorial setting, “Happy Are They Who Delight” (PFAS #112B/SNC #273).

(Previous posts in my continuing series on our Psalms for All Seasons Sunday school class focused on Psalm 121, Psalm 122Psalms 2/99Psalm 72Psalm 95, and Psalm 147.)

Psalm 147

I’m currently planning next week’s worship service (Jan. 5), which is the Second Sunday after Christmas and has Psalm 147 as the designated psalm in the Revised Common Lectionary. We discussed Psalm 147 and sang different settings in our Psalms for All Seasons Sunday school class back on Oct. 13.

Psalm 147 is part of the collection of Hallelujah psalms that ends the Psalter. The psalm affirms that the God who rules creation is the same God who has a covenant with Israel and who cares for the humble and broken hearted. It consists of three stanzas: God rebuilds Jerusalem and heals the broken hearted (vv. 1-6); God, the ruler of the natural world, takes pleasure in those who trust in him (vv. 7-11); and God, who commands the weather, makes Israel prosperous and secure, and gives it his Law (vv. 12-20). The Word Biblical Commentary (Allen 2002) titles the psalm “God of Stars and Broken Hearts.”

There are only a few settings of Psalm 147 in CRC hymnals, but most of them are good options for congregational singing. Both settings from the blue Psalter Hymnal also appear in the gray Psalter Hymnal and in Psalms for All Seasons. The one most familiar to me is “O Praise the LORD, for It Is Good” (PFAS #147D/LUYH #549/PH87 #187/PH57 #302), which also appears in Lift Up Your Hearts. It has lyrics from the 1912 Psalter and is set to MINERVA. (The 1912 Psalter and 1957 Psalter Hymnal version is titled “Praise Ye the Lord, for It Is Good.” The versification was lightly updated for the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.) It covers the first 13 verses of the psalm.

O praise the LORD, for it is good to sing unto our God; ’tis right and pleasant for his saints to tell his praise abroad.

The other traditional setting is “Sing Praise to Our Creator” (PFAS #147E/PH87 #147/PH57 #303), which doesn’t appear in LUYH. It is set to HARTFORD. The title in the blue PH is “O Sing Ye Hallelujah”; the lyrics were extensively revised and shortened (from six stanzas to five) for the gray PH by Marie Post. It covers all of the psalm.

My favorite setting is “Sing to God, with Joy and Gladness” (PFAS #147C/SNC #29/HFW #12), which doesn’t appear in Lift Up Your Hearts, but is in Sing! A New Creation and Hymns of Worship. The tune (GLENDON) sounds like an Jewish folk song with its lively syncopation, but is a modern composition by John L. Bell of the Iona Community, who wrote or arranged many of the responsorial settings in LUYH. It covers vv. 1-11. (Here’s a sample.)

Sing to God, with joy and gladness, hymns and psalms of gratitude; with the voice of praise discover that to worship God is good.

The final hymn setting is “Praise the Lord Who Heals” (PFAS #147B/LUYH #442), which was written by Norman Agatep, a member of the Filipino Catholic music ministry Bukas Palad. (Here’s a sample.) It strikes me as better suited for a choir than for congregational singing. It focuses on the first six verses of the psalm.

The responsorial setting in PFAS is “Alleluia, Alleluia” (PFAS #147) set to a Honduran tune arranged by John L. Bell. An alternative refrain is the MOZART ALLELUIA).

Psalms for All Seasons also includes a responsive “Prayer of Praise” (PFAS #147F) by John Witvliet.

(Previous posts in my continuing series on our Psalms for All Seasons Sunday school class focused on Psalm 121, Psalm 122Psalms 2/99, Psalm 72, and Psalm 95.)

Christmas Hymns in CRC Hymnals

This post is sort of an appendix to my previous post on Christmas songs from the 1987 Psalter Hymnal that didn’t get included in Lift Up Your Hearts showing all the changes in Christmas songs between the two hymnals.

Christmas Hymns in both the gray Psalter Hymnal (1987) and Lift Up Your Hearts [14]

Four hymns from the 69 to appear in all three Psalter Hymnals and Lift Up Your Hearts:
“Angels from the Realms of Glory” (LUYH #81/PH87 #354/PH57 #340/HFW #114)
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (LUYH #80/PH87 #345/PH57 #339/HFW #82)
“Joy to the World! The Lord is Come” (LUYH #92/PH87 #337/PH57 #337/HFW #78/SWM #94)
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” (LUYH #76/PH87 #340/PH57 #341/HFW #100/SWM #102)

One hymn that was added to the 1957 Psalter Hymnal:
“Silent Night! Holy Night!” (LUYH #85/PH87 #344/PH57 #342/HFW #116)

Nine more hymns in both the the 1987 PH and LUYH:
“Angels We Have Heard on High” (LUYH #82/PH87 #347/HFW #112/SWM #90)
“Away in a Manger” (LUYH #86/PH87 #348/349/SWM #87)
“Glory to God/Ere zij God” (LUYH #84/PH87 #214)
“Go, Tell It on a Mountain” (LUYH #93/PH87 #356/HFW #184)
“Good Christian Friends Rejoice” (LUYH #98/PH87 #355/HFW #43)
“Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming” (LUYH #79/PH87 #351/HFW #53)
“Of the Father’s Love Begotten” (LUYH #78/PH87 #342/HFW #23)
“Once in Royal David’s City” (LUYH #87/PH87 #346/HFW #131)

“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (LUYH #821/PH87 #341/HFW #24) [moved to The Lord’s Supper section in LUYH]

Christmas Hymns New to Lift Up Your Hearts [12]

Two classics:
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” (LUYH #88/HFW #180)
“What Child Is This” (LUYH #95)

Three New Testament Canticles:
“Gloria/Glory” (LUYH #77/SNC #116)
“Gloria, Gloria/Glory to God” (LUYH #83/SNC #115/SWM #93)
“Lord, Bid Your Servant Go In Peace” (LUYH #97/HFW #15/SWM #103/SNT #11)

Four 20th Century Christmas Hymns:
“Lord, You Were Rich Beyond All Splendor” (LUYH #75)
“God Reigns! Earth Rejoices” (LUYH #91)
“In the Heavens Show a Star” (LUYH #94)
“What Feast of Love” (LUYH #96)

Three older Christmas songs:
“How Great Our Joy” (LUYH #90/SNT #10)
“Jesus, Jesus, Oh, What a Wonderful Child” (LUYH #99/SNC #108)
“O Christmas Night” (LUYH #89)

In the gray Psalter Hymnal, but not Lift Up Your Hearts [6]

“Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light” (PH87 #343/PH #344)
“Christians Awake” (PH87 #350/PH57 #346)
“Come and Stand Amazed, You People” (PH87 #338)
“From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” (PH87 #339/PH57 #345/SNT #9)
“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” (PH87 #353)
“That Boy Child of Mary” (PH87 #352/SWM #100)

Omitted from Your Hearts, part 4

Previous items in this series of posts about notable hymns from the gray Psalter Hymnalthat were omitted from Lift Up Your Hearts focused on songs from the 1960s & ’70sPsalm settings and Bible songsToday’s theme is Christmas/Advent songs.

“Christians Awake”  (PH87 #350/PH57 #346)

Christians Awake, salute the happy morn on which the Savior of the world was born.

Only six Christmas songs in the Psalter Hymnal got left out of Lift Up Your Hearts. This spirited 18th Century carol is one of two that I miss.

“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” (PH87 #353)

Swiftly winging, angels singing, bells are ringing, tidings bringing: Christ the child is Lord of all! Christ the child is Lord of all!

All the internal rhymes—highlighted by the winging/singing/ringing/bringing—make “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” a Christmas earworm. 

“Little Bethlehem of Judah” (PH87 #204)

I wonder how many hymns that were created for the gray Psalter Hymnal, like “Christ, You Are the Fullness” (PH87 #229/SNT #201), didn’t make it into LUYH. “Little Bethlehem of Judah,” a versification of Micah 5:2-4 by Calvin Seerveld, is another example. Set in the Bible Song section of the Psalter Hymnal, this song was part of our repertoire at Trinity.

“O Lord, How Shall I Meet You” (PH87 #331)

The Psalter Hymnal has only 10 Advent songs and seven appear in Lift Up Your Hearts. This 17th Century hymn is one of the three that didn’t—and another that we sang at Trinity.

“The Prophets Came to Israel” (PH87 #334)

Here’s another CRC hymn that didn’t make the cut. Bert Witvoet wrote “The Prophets Came to Israel” for Advent candle lighting with the verses corresponding to candles for the prophets, Bethlehem, shepherds, angels and Christ. If we’re not going to preserve our own hymns in our own hymnal, we shouldn’t expect them to survive.

(Incidentally, the third lost Advent hymn is the strangely titled “O Christ! Come Back to Save Your Folk” (PH87 #330)—rhymes with “with one clean stroke”— another CRC original by Calvin Seerveld.)

Next up: Rousing hymns from the mid-19th Century.

Omitted from Your Hearts, part 3

Previous items in this series of posts about notable hymns from the gray Psalter Hymnal that were omitted from Lift Up Your Hearts focused on songs from the 1960s & ’70s and Psalm settings. Today’s theme is Bible songs, and I wish all four of these songs were in the new hymnal:

“I Will Sing Unto the Lord” (PH87 #152)

I will sing unto the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously, the horse and rider thrown into the sea.

“I Will Sing Unto the Lord” is based on “The Song of the Sea” in Exodus 15, one of the oldest songs in the Bible; there are no songs derived from it in Lift Up Your Hearts.

Like “The King of Glory Comes” (PH87 #370) and “The Trees of the Field” (see below), “I Will Sing Unto the Lord” has a lively Jewish-style melody.  (Two of the three songs are set to Israeli folk songs, while “The Trees of the Field” was written by Jews for Jesus’ Stuart Dauermann.)

“The Trees of the Field” (PH87 #197)

You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth before you; there’ll be shouts of joy, and all the trees of the field will clap, will clap their hands!

Based on Isaiah 55:12, this is another exuberant song from the 1960s-70s.

“Our God Reigns” (PH87 #195)

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, good news, announcing peace, proclaiming new of happiness: our God reigns, our God reigns.

According to The Banner’s article “A New Hymnal for a New Generation,” the author of “Our God Reigns,” “wouldn’t allow us to reprint it as it appears in the Psalter Hymnal.”

I’d like to know what that was about. The Psalter Hymnal includes only the first stanza (a versification of Isaiah 52:7). It’s not immediately clear to me what the CRC’s problem with the other four stanzas is or why Leonard Smith objects to  including just one stanza.

This is another omitted song from the 1960s-70s. According to the Psalter Hymnal Handbook, Smith wrote the first stanza and chorus “in just five minutes” in 1973 and added the other stanzas in 1978.

“Christ, You Are the Fullness” (PH87 #229/SNT #201)

Christ you are the fullness of God, first-born of everything. For by you all things were made; you hold them up. You are head of the church, which is your body. Firstborn from the dead, you in all things are supreme.

In my opinion, this is one of the worst losses from the Psalter Hymnal, for which it was created. According to the Psalter Hymnal Handbook: “Bert Polman versified these Scriptures [from Colossians] in 1986 to be sung with the Korean tune ARIRANG so that the hymnal would include at least one Korean tune. A Korean musician recommended this tune as one that all Koreans would know” (p. 363-4). LIft Up Your Hearts includes an actual Korean hymn (“오 소 서/Come Now, O Prince of Peace” [LUYH #905]) so I guess this one was no longer needed. But if we’re not going to keep it alive, who will?

The tune is beautiful and the lyrics paraphrase “three essential passages in Paul’s letter to the Colossians: 1:15-18, about the supremacy of Christ (st. 1); 3:1-4, about our position in Christ (st. 2); and 3: 15-17, about thankful (doxological) living (st. 3)” (Psalter Hymnal Handbook). It’s one of my favorites.

“Christ, You Are the Fullness” did appear in the 1990 Presbyterian Church USA hymnal, but it didn’t make the cut for its recent replacement, Glory to God. The only current denominational hymnal it appears in may be Evangelical Covenant Church’s 1996 The Covenant Hymnal: A Worshipbook.

The hymn does appear in Faith Alive’s Singing the New Testament, but I don’t know how widely used that is.

The Christ hymn (Colossians 1:15-20) in the first stanza is the subject of Matthew Westerholm’s generic praise song “The First Place” (LUYH #15, SNT #199).

Next up: Christmas songs that didn’t make the cut.

Omitted from Your Hearts, part 2

When Lift Up Your Hearts came out, I figured that there would be plenty of discussion online about what hymns appeared in the new hymnal and which ones didn’t. I couldn’t find that discussion so this blog is a start.

My previous list of notable songs from the 1987 Psalter Hymnal that were omitted from Lift Up Your Hearts focused on songs written between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. Part 2 focuses on Psalms (including two more songs from the ’60s and ’70s).

“Clap Your Hands” (PH87 #166/SWM #2)

Clap your hands, all you people; shout unto God with a voice of triumph! Clap your hands, all you people; shout unto God with a voice of praise!

This catchy canon based on Psalm 47:1 was excised from Lift Up Your Hearts and doesn’t appear in Psalms for All Seasons either. It does appear in Sing with Me (our Sunday School songbook) with a second, Ascension-themed verse. It’s another casualty from the 1970s.

“I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord” (PH87 #169/PFAS #89A)

 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, I will sing, I will sing.

Only one setting of Psalm 89 made it into Lift Up Your Hearts and it wasn’t “I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord,” which does appear in Psalms for All Seasons.

“This Is the Day” (PH87 #241/PFAS #118K)

This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made.

I’m surprised this versification of Psalm 118:24, set to a lively Fijian folk medley and published in 1967, didn’t make it into Lift Up Your Hearts, but it does appear in Psalms for All Seasons. I have a sense that the catchy folk tunes of the 1960s and ’70s were swept aside by the catchy praise songs of the 1990s and 2000s.

“Out of the Depths I Cry, Lord” (PH87 #130)

There are some great settings of Psalm 130 in Psalms for All Seasons and this one didn’t make it in—despite being set to GENEVAN 130. Our Sunday School class will take up Psalm 130 in January and decide whether this versification deserved to get the boot.

“Give Thanks to God For Good Is He” (PH87 #182/PFAS #136E)

Eighty hymns appeared in the Psalter Hymnals of 1934, 1957 & 1987 (with the same tune in all three books). Sixty-nine of them appear in Lift Up Your Hearts. “Give Thanks to God For Good Is He” is one of the 11 that didn’t make the cut. The only Psalm 136 setting in Lift Up Your Hearts is “We Give Thanks unto You” (LUYH #52/PFAS #136C/SNC #26). “Give Thanks to God For Good Is He,” which has lyrics from the 1912 Psalter, does appear in Psalms for All Seasons.

“I Will Exalt My God and King” (PH87 #145/PH57 #299/PFAS #145B)

“I Will Exalt My God and King” is another Psalm setting with lyrics from the 1912 Psalter. The 1912 version appeared in the 1957 Psalter Hymnal as “O Lord, Thou Art My God and King” with the original eight verses and tune (DUKE STREET [“Jesus Shall Reign”]). The versification (now with seven verses)  was altered for the 1987 Psalter Hymnal and set to JERUSALEM. That’s the version that appears in Psalms for All Seasons. (This is another hymn that was brought to my attention by one of our accompanists, who notes that JERUSALEM was used in Chariots of Fire.)

Lift Up Your Hearts does include three settings of Psalm 145, including “I Will Extol You, O My God” (LUYH #561/PFAS #145E/PH87 #185/PH57 #298), which also has lyrics from the 1912 Psalter and is one of the 69 hymns to pass through the three Psalter Hymnals into LUYH.

Next up: Notable (non-Psalm) Bible songs omitted from Lift Up Your Hearts.

Omitted from Your Hearts, part 1

I would love to see a list of the hymns that just made the cut into Lift Up Your Hearts and those that just missed it. (Around half of the songs in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal—302 of 641 made it into LUYH). My own list of notable hymns that appeared in the Psalter Hymnal but were omitted from Lift Up Your Hearts has around 30 entries. Quite a few of these were written between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s and apparently the LUYH editors didn’t think they aged well. Here are seven of those (in roughly chronological order):

“The King of Glory Comes” (PH87 #370)

The king of glory comes, the nation rejoices. Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.

Willard Jabusch, a Catholic priest, wrote the lyrics for the lively Israeli folk song PROMISED ONE. According to the Psalter Hymnal Handbook, “The text was published in Hymnal for Young Christians (1966), one of the first English Roman Catholic hymnals published in the United States after Vatican II” (p. 526)

“Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” (PH87 #545)

Another post-Vatican II hymn, “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” is a song I’m fine with tossing out of the hymnal. The lyrics are attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, but their first appearance wasn’t until the 20th Century. The tune is boring;  here’s the first line: F# F# F# F# F# G A F#.

It has been replaced by another version of the prayer, “Lord, Make Us Servants” (LUYH #904) set to O WALY WALY (“As Moses Raised the Serpent Up”). The prayer is also included as a responsive reading: “Prayer of St. Francis” (LUYH #860).

“No Weight of Gold or Silver” (PH87 #374)

I’m not as familiar with this one, but one of our accompanists told me she was very disappointed about its exclusion.

“Father, I Adore You” (PH87 #284)

Father, I adore you, lay my life before you. How I love you.

We sing this as our opening song every Sunday during Children and Worship (with hand motions). Surprisingly, it also isn’t in Sing with Me, our Sunday School hymnal. It’s only one line; they could have squeezed it into the white space below #600.

“Thanks To God Whose Word Was Spoken” (PH87 #281)

The text was written in 1954 and first published in the 1964 Methodist Hymnal. The tune was written 1974 but sounds like a much older traditional hymn.

“Praise the Lord with the Sound of Trumpet” (PH87 #569)

Praise the Lord with the sound of trumpet, praise the Lord with the harp and lute, praise the Lord with the gentle-sounding flute.

By the Natalie Sleeth, the composer of “Go Now in Peace” (LUYH #905/PH87 #317/SWM #231), which did make the cut, this is a catchy “catalog text” calling on musical  instruments and natural phenomena to praise the Lord. It was part of the repertoire at Trinity.

“Father, We Love You” (PH87 #634)

Father, we love you, we worship and adore you, glorify your name in all the earth.

This is another song we sang at Trinity. The Psalter Hymnal Handbook calls it “one of the finest praise choruses as well as prayer hymns from the mid-1970s.”

Next up: Notable psalm settings omitted from Lift Up Your Hearts.

Psalm 95

Here’s yet another post in my continuing series on our Psalms for All Seasons Sunday school class. (Previous posts focused on Psalm 121, Psalm 122, Psalms 2/99, and Psalm 72)

This past Sunday (Dec. 15) our Sunday school class took up Psalm 95. The psalm itself has two complementary halves. The first (vv. 1-7) is an extended call to worship.

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

The second half (8-11) is a sermon to those gathered to worship, warning not to harden our hearts as our ancestors did in the wilderness.

Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.” Therefore in my anger I swore, “They shall not enter my rest.”

Eugene Petersen, in his Praying with the Psalms (1993), makes an interesting connection between the first and second haves:

 The opposite of worship is wandering. The alternatives to the “Let us worship and bow down,” in which we give our attention to God’s love and direction, are strife (Meribah) and temptation (Massah), in which we look out for ourselves and snatch what we can in a trackless desert.

Psalms for All Seasons’ selection of Psalm 95 settings is an embarrassment of riches—seven hymns, with both new and familiar tunes, and a responsorial setting—“Oh, That Today You Would Listen to God’s Voice” (PFAS #95E).

Four of the hymns are set to traditional hymn tunes.

“Now with Joyful Exultation”  (PFAS #95D/LUYH #512/PH87 #95/PH57 #184) has lyrics from the 1912 Psalter and is one of only 69 hymns to appear in all three Psalter Hymnals (1934, 1957 & 1987) and Lift Up Your Hearts. It is set to BEECHER, which is a familiar tune written for “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (LUYH pairs that hymn with HYFRYDOL).

Now with joyful exultation let us sing to God our praise; to the Rock of our salvation loud hosannas let us raise.

“Come, Worship God” (PFAS #95G/LUYH #509/SNC #25) is the other traditional hymn that is also found in Lift Up Your Hearts. It is set to O QUANTA QUALIA (“Here from All Nations”).

Come, worship God, who is worthy of honor; enter God’s presence with thanks and a song! You are the rock of your people’s salvation, to whom our jubilant praises belong.

“Come, Let Us Praise the Lord” (PFAS #95A) is set to DARWALL’S 148TH (“Rejoice, the Lord is King”).

Come, let us praise the Lord, with joy our God acclaim, his greatness tell abroad
and bless his saving name. Lift high your songs before his throne to whom alone all praise belongs.

“Come with All Joy to Sing to God” (PFAS #95H), the final traditional hymn, is paired with GERMANY.

Come with all joy to sing to God our saving rock, the living Lord; in glad thanksgiving seek his face with songs of victory and grace.

All these hymns begin with an invitation to praise God, but they differ in how they deal with the second half of the psalm.  Two turn the warning at the end of the psalm into a promise. “Come, Worship God” ends with “Peace be to all who remember your goodness, trust in your world, and rejoice in your way,” while “Come, Let Us Praise the Lord” concludes with God’s ways leading “at last, all troubles past, to perfect rest.”

“Come with All Joy to Sing to God” devotes four stanzas to vv. 1-7 and two to vv. 8-11—so getting to the warning requires singing the final verses. “Now with Joyful Exultation,” with lyrics from the 1912 Psalter, spells out the warning in stanza 4:

While he offers peace and pardon let us hear His voice today, lest, if we our hearts should harden, we should perish in the way—lest to us, so unbelieving, he in judgment should declare: “Your, so long my Spirit grieving, never in my rest will share.”

“Come, Let Us Worship and Bow Down” (PFAS #95B/LUYH #510) is Dave Doherty’s short song based on vv 6-7.

“Come Now, and Lift Up Your Hearts” (PFAS #95F) is a song from India written with leader and congregation parts. While we were discussing how to sing it, Andrew kept referring to the “repeats” that the rest of us couldn’t see. It turns out that he has a launch tour version of Psalms for All Seasons that had the song written differently—with repeats but no leader or congregation parts. My spiral bound copy and the copies the church bought had the corrected versions. The launch tour version also has no title for “Miren qué bueno/Oh, Look and Wonder” (PFAS #133D).  (Justin Struik, you should check your copy to see if it’s one of these rarities.) Once we all got on the same page (literarily), we did enjoy the song. (Here is a sample of “Come Now, and Lift Up Your Hearts.”)

“Let Not Your Hearts Be Hardened” (PFAS #95I) is the only setting that takes its title from  second half of the Psalm and the only one that mentions Meribah and Massah by name. The chorus is:

Let not your hearts be hardened, if today you hear God’s voice, if today you hear God’s voice.

It might be difficult for congregational singing. Naomi thought the setting might work best with three singers who sing together on the chorus and take turns on the stanzas.

The final setting in Psalm for All Seasons is “Come Let Us Sing” (PFAS #95C), which is a chant. We haven’t learned to chant yet (we intend to next semester) so we got off to a rough start, but after we saw the performance note that claimed that “This singing of this four-part chant is surprisingly easy,” we gave it another try and were able to stay together.

We didn’t have time for songs in the Psalter Hymnals. The gray Psalter Hymnal had a second setting that didn’t make it into LUYH despite being to the tune of GENEVAN 95: “Come, Sing for Joy to the Lord God” (PH87 #173). The blue Psalter Hymnal had additional three settings: “O Come Before the Lord” (PH57 #183), “O Come and to Jehovah Sing” (PH57 #185) and “Sing to the Lord, the Rock of Our Salvation” (PH57 #186)

Psalm 72

Here’s another post in my continuing series on our Psalms for All Seasons Sunday school class. (Previous posts focused on Psalm 121, Psalm 122, and Psalms 2/99.)

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s son; that he may rule your people righteously and the poor with justice; that the mountains may bring property to the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

Psalm 72:1-7 & 18-19 is assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary to the Second Sunday of Advent in Year A; we took up the psalm in our class on Sept. 15.

Psalm 72 is royal psalm, possibly written by David for Solomon. It concludes the Second Book of Psalms. According to Tate (2000):

Psalm 72 offers a glimpse of the ideal relationship among ruler, God, and people. The people pray for the empowerment of the king, who uses the gifts God gives, not for his own benefit or even for the benefit of the people, but for the least of all among the people.

The responsorial reading in Psalms for All Seasons is “In His Days Justice WIll Flourish” (PFAS #72C)

The Psalm 72 settings in Psalms for All Seasons and Lift Up Your Hearts feature three majestic tunes: ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVÖGELEIN, DUKE STREET and CORONATION.

ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVÖGELEIN is paired with “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” (PFAS #72A/LUYH #109/PH87 #72/SNC #120/HFW #4)

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, great David’s greater Son! Hail, in the time appointed, your reign on earth begun!

James Montgomery wrote eight stanzas for the hymn, of which the CRC hymnals use #1 (“Hail to the Lord’s anointed, great David’s greater son”), #2 (“He comes with rescue speedy to those who suffer wrong”), #3 (“He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth”) and #7 (“Kings shall fall down before you, and gold and incense bring”).

Looking through hymn’s page on, I noticed that some hymnals use #5 (“For Him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascent”) and/or #8 (“O’er every foe victorious, He on His throne shall rest”). I didn’t see any that used #4 (“Arabia’s desert-ranger to him shall bow the knee”) or #6 (“The heav’ns which now conceal Him in counsels deep and wise”)

I’d happily sing more than just four verses.

Most hymnals don’t use ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVÖGELEIN for “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” and the tune is used with several other hymns. It can be found in other CRC hymnals as the tune for “Song of Mary/My Soul Proclaims with Wonder” (SNC #102) and “Are You the One” (SNT #66), which is based on Matthew 11:1-6.

“Are you the one,” they asked him,“the one who is to come, or must we go on waiting for God’s own promised one?” He gave John’s friends an answer, so simple, yet profound. “See for yourself,” said Jesus, “the signs are all around.”

DUKE STREET is paired with Isaac Watt’s “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun” (PFAS #72B/LUYH #219/PH87 #412/PH57 #399/HFW #77), which first appeared in him hymnal Psalms of David, Imitated (1719). It is one of only 69 hymns to appear in all three Psalter Hymnals (1934, 1957 & 1987) and in Lift Up Your Hearts. The hymn draws upon vv. 5, 8 & 12-19 of Psalm 72 and makes Jesus the focus of the psalm.

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does its successive journeys run, his kingdom stretch from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.

DUKE STREET is also used in Lift Up Your Hearts for “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” (LUYH #193/HFW #108).

CORONATION is most closely associated with “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” (LUYH #601/PH87 #471), but it’s also the tune for “Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God” (LUYH #953/PH87 #603), which is a doxology based on Psalm 71:18-19.

In my notes from the class, I marked “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” as our likely Psalm 72 hymn, but we ended up using Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 as our assurance of pardon and “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun” immediately after as the song of response. “Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God” was our closing doxology.

The remaining Psalm 72 setting in PFAS is “Estan en tu mano/In Your Hand Alone” (PFAS #72D).

We didn’t sing any of the other Psalm settings in the Psalter Hymnals: “Christ is King and He Shall Reign” (PH87 #359), “Christ Shall Have Dominion” (PH87 #541/PH57 #135), “O God, to Thine Anointed King” (PH57 #133) and “His Wide Dominion Shall Endure” (PH57 #134). Each of these versifies part of Psalm 72.