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Blest Are They (Matthew 5:3-12)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The text is a simple and memorable setting of the Beatitudes. “Rejoice and be glad!” from verse 12 serves as an encouraging and uplifting refrain. 
 
Sing! A New Creation

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Stanzas 4 and 5 speak about the call to seek peace and, even, to suffer hate. These requirements are the same as those which gave rise to the Belhar Confession, Section 3. The church is called to be a “peacemaker” and to “witness both by word and by deed to the new heaven and the new earth in which righteousness dwell.” The Belhar Confession, Section 5 calls the church to obedience even though “…punishment and suffering be the consequence.”

Tune Information

Name
BLEST ARE THEY
Key
G Major or modal
Meter
irregular

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

“Blest Are They” is one of the most popular songs of the liturgical folk movement. Like most songs in this style, the verses should be a bit quieter to leave room for the refrain to fully blossom. This style calls for the guitar to play a prominent role, with a full strum that echoes the 2 against 3 pattern found on page 2, measures 3-4.
— Greg Scheer

This melody stays in the mind and heart long after the music has died away. The folk style is easy to play for keyboardists and guitarists, but correct word placement on the stanzas can be tricky. Therefore begin with a cantor or choir singing at least the opening stanzas and the entire assembly joining on the refrain.
 
Feel in one and let the refrain soar into the ascending seventh on “Rejoice! And be glad!” and then fall back down with “Yours is the kingdom of God.” The descant especially adds to the feeling of soaring. Enjoy the hemiola (the duple accompaniment under the first “glad” in the accompaniment), and repeat the refrain one extra time at the end. 

Hymn Story/Background

This is one of the most notable settings of Jesus’ beatitudes in Matthew 5, made even more memorable by the rousing refrain. 
— Bert Polman

Author and Composer Information

David Haas (b. Bridgeport, Michigan, 1957) resides in Eagan, Minnesota, where he is director of The Emmaus Center for Music, Prayer and Ministry and serves as campus minister at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota where he also directs the CDH Liturgical Choir.

Highly regarded as one of the preeminent liturgical music composers in the English-speaking world, he has produced more than 45 collections of original music. His liturgical works are sung and prayed throughout the world and appear in hymnals of many Christian denominations and in many languages.

David’s newest projects with GIA include A Changed Heart, Your Call Is Constant (a book of prayers and reflections), and Mass for A New World. Other recent projects with GIA include Living Spirit, Holy Fire; God Is Here, and Reach Toward Heaven. His live recording and video “Glory Day” continues to receive international acclaim, and he has served as a consultant for the various editions of the popular GIA hymnals Gather and Gather Comprehensive.