10

We Sing the Mighty Power of God

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Stanza 1 provides a very nurturing picture of the Creator and whose “power [that] made the mountains rise,” whose “wisdom [that] ordained the sun to rule the day.”
 
This song tells of the Lord who “filled the earth with good” and then “pronounced it good” (stanza 2). All these references are echoed in Belgic Confession, Article 2: this “beautiful book” makes us “ponder the invisible things of God.”

Tune Information

Name
KINGSFOLD
Key
e minor or modal
Meter
8.6.8.6 D

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

Alfred Fedak’s arrangement of the KINGSFOLD tune brings out the joyful, bouncy side of creation. Organists should play lightly with some space between the notes, and at a faster tempo than the traditional harmonization (#162).
— Greg Scheer

Hymn Story/Background

Written by Isaac Watts, this eight-stanza text originally began "I sing the almighty power of God." The text was published in Divine and Moral Songs for the Use of Children (1715; the first hymnal intended primarily for children) with the heading "Praise for Creation and Providence." Lift Up Your Hearts omits the original stanzas 7 and 8 and combines the other six original stanzas into three longer ones.
 
Although it was written for children, this is also a great hymn for adults. The text presents a wonderful view of God's creation, sketched in vivid pictorial language. The creation around us is a beautiful panorama that testifies to its Creator, whose power and wisdom (st. 1), goodness and wonders (st. 2), and providence and omnipresence (st. 3) we confess with awe and praise.
 
Thought by some scholars to date back to the Middle Ages, KINGSFOLD is a folk tune set to a variety of texts in England and Ireland.
 
The tune was published in English Country Songs (1893), an anthology compiled by Lucy E. Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland. After having heard the tune in Kingsfold, Sussex, England (thus its name), Ralph Vaughan Williams introduced it as a hymn tune in The English Hymnal (1906) as a setting for Horatius Bonar's “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.”
 
Shaped in classic rounded bar form (AABA), KINGSFOLD has modal character and is both dignified and strong. Use a bright organ tone.
 
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Isaac Watts (b. Southampton, England, 1674; d. London, England, 1748) was a precocious student and voracious reader. As a youth he studied Latin, Greek, French, and Hebrew. He declined an offer to study at Oxford and chose instead to attend an independent academy in Stoke Newington (1690-1694). From 1696 to 1701 Watts was tutor for the family of Sir John Hartopp, and in 1702 he became the pastor of Mark Lane Independent Chapel in London. However, ill health, which he had suffered for some years, took a serious turn in 1712. After that time he served the Mark Lane Chapel only on a part-time basis and moved in to the estate of Sir Thomas Abney to became the family chaplain, a position he held for the rest of his life. During the following thirty-six years Watts was a prolific author–writing books about theology, philosophy (including an influential textbook, Logic), and education, as well as con­ducting a voluminous correspondence.
 
Today, Watts is best remembered for his psalm paraphrases and hymns, while many of his contemporaries were exclusive psalm singers. After complaining about the poor quality of many of the psalm paraphrases, the teenager Watts was challenged by his father, "Give us something better!" So, he began to write new psalm versifications in which he deliberately chose not to follow closely the King James text but instead to interpret the Old Testament psalms through contemporary British Christian and New Testament eyes.
 
The next step was to write hymns rather than Scripture paraphrases. What he called "hymns of human composure" established him as the creator of the modern English hymn; he is known as the "father of English hymnody." Altogether, Watts wrote more than six hundred psalm and hymn texts, which were published in his Horae Lyricae (1706), Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707), Divine Songs . . . for the Use of Children (1715), The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1719), and Sermons and Hymns (1721-1727). Most of Watts' texts use the traditional British ballad meters (Short Meter, Common Meter, and Long Meter) and state their theme in often memorable first lines. His work became immensely popular in the English-speaking world, including the United States, where, following the American Revolution, Watts' texts were edited by Timothy Dwight in 1801 to remove their British connotations. Several of his versifications and hymns are still found in most hymnals; especially loved are the paraphrase of Psalm 90, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" (405), and the hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (175).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Alfred Fedak (b. 1953), is a well-known organist, composer, and Minister of Music at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Capitol Hill in Albany, New York. He graduated from Hope College in 1975 with degrees in organ performance and music history. He obtained a Master’s degree in organ performance from Montclair State University, and has also studied at Westminster Choir College, Eastman School of Music, the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, and at the first Cambridge Choral Studies Seminar at Clare College, Cambridge. 
 
As a composer, he has over 200 choral and organ works in print, and has three published anthologies of his work (Selah Publishing). In 1995, he was named a Visiting Fellow in Church Music at Episcopal Seminary of the Soutwest in Austin, Texas. He is also a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists, and was awarded the AGO’s prestigious S. Lewis Elmer Award. Fedak is a Life Member of the Hymn Society, and writes for The American Organist, The Hymn, Reformed Worship, and Music and Worship. He was a member of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song that prepared Glory to God, the 2013 hymnal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
— Laura de Jong
General Settings
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