211

Lift Up Your Voices (Psalm 68:1-19)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Some thoughts from Psalm 110 are a parallel to Psalm 68.
With regards to “The Lord of hosts is risen” consider the accounts of the resurrection narrative in the gospels - Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-16.

Call to Worship

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord ?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord , strong and mighty,
the Lord , mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory.
—Psalm 24, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
—Psalm 47:5-8, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
—Psalm 24:7-8, 10, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

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!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord , our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
—Psalm 95:1-7, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Words of Praise

Refrain
 
May God arise,
may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
 
Refrain
 
A father to the fatherless,
a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live
in a sun-scorched land.
When you, God,
went out before your people,
when you marched
through the wilderness,
the earth shook,
the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty,
God, you provided for the poor.
 
Refrain
 
The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it
are a mighty throng:
“Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
Even while you sleep
among the sheep pens,
the wings of my dove
are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
When the Almighty scattered
the kings in the land,
it was like snow
fallen on Mount Zalmon.
Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
why gaze in envy,
you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God
chooses to reign,
where the Lord himself
will dwell forever?
 
Refrain
 
The chariots of God are tens of
thousands and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai
into his sanctuary.
When you ascended on high,
you took many captives;
you received gifts from people,
even from the rebellious —
that you, Lord God,
might dwell there.
Praise be to the Lord,
to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
 
Refrain or continue by singing 212

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty
and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established,
firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.
Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.
—Psalm 93:1-2, 5, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

Mighty God, you have delivered us from sin’s captivity
and freed us from the powers of death
through Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Lord.
Inspire now our songs of extravagant praise
until all the world knows that you alone are Savior and Redeemer. Amen.
 

Ascended Lord Jesus, help us to turn our thoughts toward you. We confess to
you this Ascension Day that we so often fail to take you into account. Sometimes
we do not set our minds upon you because of sheer laziness—it’s easier just to go
with society’s flow. Sometimes we do not take you into account because of simple
inattention—we just forget to look for ways in which we could serve your gospel
in a given situation. At other times we have not turned toward you because we have
actively and willfully decided to turn away from you.
When and where we fail to be transparent to your cosmic lordship, please
forgive us. By your Spirit of Pentecost, sent to us precisely because you are reigning
on high, help us to see this world the way you see it. From your exalted throne you
are able to see us and this world and its many hurting people clearly and well. Help
us to open our own eyes. Grant us vision and insight to view the people around us
through the lens of your own compassion.
Sometimes, O God, we conceive of your lordship as regal, powerful, and
perhaps a bit distant. We think your sovereign rule involves mostly quashing evil,
pursuing justice, and judging sin. Remind us by your Spirit that your lordship is
also about being close to people in need. Prod us to recall that in your kingdom,
rulership comes through servanthood and that the hands that uphold our world are
the pierced and tender hands of Jesus. Help us to remember (so that we may imitate
this ourselves) that you see not just evil that needs judging but also suffering that
needs ministry.
For you, O Lord, see the tears of the widowed, the sobs that overtake them when
the rest of us are not looking. You see the disorientation in which so many people
live every day—confusion borne of war, poverty, abuse, or chronic illness. You
see the people in dead-end jobs who trudge to work every day filled with so much
despair that they can hardly breathe. You see those who search a loved one’s eyes
for traces of love but find only an empty stare. As Lord of the earth, you spy every
instance of one person cutting another to the quick, every place where a child lives
in fear, every bar where someone tries to drown their sorrows.
Yet you are our world’s every hope. You are tender enough to weep with those
who weep and yet strong enough to lend comfort and not be consumed with the
sorrows that overwhelm us. You are discerning enough to see where our lives run
off the rails and yet gracious enough to forgive our foolishness and open again
the better path that leads into your kingdom. You are the bright center to all of
life, O God! Your lordship helps us glimpse our future with you in your kingdom,
even as it points the way home.
Make us into people of the ascension, Christ Jesus! Make us your hands of mercy,
your voice of grace, your presence of love. Whatever we do, whether in word
or deed; whatever we see, whether sinful or salacious; whatever we hear, whether
uplifting or depressing; whatever we face in this world, help us to face it in your
power and with the knowledge of your grace and goodness. Help us to be gentle
with prodigal children. Help us to be stalwart in the truth with people in love with
lies. Help us to be radiant with hope with people who fear death. Help us to be your
people, Lord God.
For today, as always, this world needs your shalom-filled presence. Bring peace
to war-torn places and help people everywhere to see in one another your image.
May those who delight in the paths of suicide and destruction be turned instead to
delight in life and in mutual flourishing. End the terror in which so many live, and
thwart the dreams of those who plot still more terror on the unsuspecting. Where
there is hunger, bring bread; where there is drought and thirst, send refreshing
rains; where there is hatred, bring your peace; where there is greed, bring your own
fullness and so turn appetites run amok away from short-term pleasures toward
things that last and that foster richness and plenty for all.
We are the people of your ascension and reign, Holy Christ of God. Whatever
we do, help us never to forget who we are, whose we are, and where true joy may
be found.
In the power and blessing of your name we pray. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Ascended Lord, we praise you.
In your death you utterly wiped out the damning evidence
of broken laws and commandments that always hung over our heads.
You completely annulled it by nailing it over your head on the cross.
In your resurrection you gave us new life, free life, full of new possibilities.
In your ascension you paraded sin and death behind you
in your triumphal procession.
You are our guarantee of victory.
You are our guarantee because you went through everything
we struggle with and triumphed over all evil.
What you did, you promised to help us do.
You will always be with us—not merely with sympathy but also with power.
You are our guarantee because it is truly “one of us”
who now governs as ruler of time and space.
This too gives us confidence and courage for the future.
You are our guarantee because, in going away,
you released the Spirit on us.
You are not distant from us but closer to us than ever before.
The current of the Spirit works over and through us endlessly.
It seeps and trickles into all the depths of heart and mind and will
so that truly we are like trees planted by water.
We bear fruit in season, our leaves do not wither,
and all that we do turns out well.
We bring our hopes, our needs, our desires to you.
We are confident of access because you are “one of us.”
We are confident of answers because you are the ruler of the universe.
Yours is the name above every other name,
the name before which every knee bows and every tongue confesses,
“You are Lord,” to the glory of God.
Hear our prayers and accept our praises.
May they rise like sweet-smelling incense before you
from lives that are like altars set ablaze by the fire of the Spirit. Amen.
—based on Psalm 1:3; Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12-15; Philippians 2:10-11
[Reformed Worship 15:34]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

The following is a guide for extemporaneous prayers. The pattern provides a suggested text
for the opening and closing of each part of the prayer and calls for extemporaneous prayers of
thanksgiving, petition, and intercession.
Sovereign King,
we praise you for your just and righteous reign over the cosmos:
for the order you give to creation . . .
for your sovereign rule over the nations . . .
for your faithfulness to your church . . .
for your lordship in our lives . . .
You are at once King and servant, willing to give your life
and caring even for what we might count as insignificant.
So we approach your throne knowing you will listen to our prayers
for creation and its care . . .
for the nations of the world . . .
for our nation and its leaders . . .
for this community and those who are in authority . . .
for the church universal as it works on your behalf . . .
for this local church in its ministry . . .
for persons with particular needs . . .
We pray in your name, O Christ, our sovereign servant King. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Tune Information

Recordings

Hymn Story/Background

Martin Tel crafted this refrain from Psalm 68, using the famed Genevan tune for this Psalm. (For a full version of this Psalm and tune, see Lift Up Your Hearts, 212) Psalm 68 became the battle song of the Calvinist Reformation throughout Europe (analogous to Luther's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" in the Lutheran tradition). It has been called the "Huguenot Marseillaise," and stanza 1 is probably the best known in the Dutch Reformed tradition.
 
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Martin Tel is the C. F. Seabrook Director of Music at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. He conducts the seminary choirs, teaches courses in church music, and administers the music for the daily seminary worship services. He served as senior editor of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship (2012). His love for music began in a dairy barn in rural Washington State, where he heard his father belt out psalms and hymns while milking the cows. Martin earned degrees in church music and theology from Dordt College, the University of Notre Dame, Calvin Theological Seminary, and the University of Kansas. He has served as minister of music in Christian Reformed, Reformed Church in America, and Presbyterian congregations. With his wife, Sharilyn, he is raising three children in Princeton, New Jersey.
 

Composer Information

The Genevan Psalter is the major gift of the Reformed branch of the Reformation to the song of the church. John Calvin (1509-1564) first experienced congregational singing of the psalms in Strasbourg when serving as a pastor of French exiles there, and when returning to Geneva in 1541 he finally persuaded the city council to permit congregational singing, which they had banned entirely under the influence of Ulrich Zwingli. Just two months after returning to Geneva, Calvin wrote in his Ecclesiastical Ordinances: "It will be good to introduce ecclesiastical songs, the better to incite the people to pray to and praise God. For a beginning the little children are to be taught; then with time all the church will be able to follow." Calvin set about overseeing the development of several metrical psalms with melodies, rather than the hymns, or chorales, of the Lutheran tradition, and also in contrast to the published psalters with texts only that followed in England and Scotland. The emerging Genevan Psalter was published in instalments until completed in 1562, including the 150 psalms, the Ten Commandments and the Song of Simeon. He employed the best French poets and composers to prepare metrical settings rather than continuing to chant the psalms, since poetry in meter was the popular form of the day—and also the choice for the Lutheran chorale.
 
The publication event was the largest in publishing history until then; twenty-four printers in Geneva alone, plus presses in Paris, Lyons, and elsewhere produced more than 27,000 copies in the first two years; more than 100,000 copies were available in over thirty editions. The Genevan Psalter was extremely popular, and almost immediately translated into Dutch, Hungarian, and German. Due to the intense persecution of the French Huguenots in the 16th century, the center of activity of the Reformed branch of the Reformation moved away from France and especially to the Netherlands, and from there to Indonesia, South Africa, and North America. The most recent translation (2004) of the entire psalter is into Japanese. The most recent English translation of the entire Genevan Psalter is available with melodies from the Canadian Reformed Book of Praise, available at http://www.canrc.org/?page=23 .

Calvin’s goal was to provide a distinct tune for every psalm, so that each psalm would have its own identity. Every tune would then bring to mind a particular psalm. The psalter didn’t quite reach this goal: it contains 125 different tunes. Today, only a few of those Genevan tunes are in wide use, among them the psalm tune most widely known around the world, often identified as OLD HUNDRETH, or simply, “The Doxology.”
— Emily Brink

Matthäus Greiter (b. Aichach, Germany, 1490; d. Strousburg, France, December 20, 1550) studied at Freiburg University and became a monk and musician at the Strasbourg Cathedral. Influenced by Wolfgang Dachstein, Greiter joined the Lutheran Church in 1524 and served several Lutheran congregations in the Strasbourg area. He also taught at the Gymnasium Argentinense (high school) and eventually directed a choir school. However, the year before his death Greiter returned to the Roman Catholic Church. He is thought to have been the music editor of John Calvin's first Strasbourg Psalter, Aulcuns Pseaulmes et Cantiques(1539).
 
— Bert Polman
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.