Mighty God, you have delivered us from sin’s captivity and freed us from the power of death. Thanks be to you for giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Inspire now our songs of extravagant praise so that the entire world may know that Jesus is Lord. Amen.
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.
At Sinai God established Israel as the people of his kingdom, organized them as his army, and set out as their head to conquer the promised land. When the conquest was at last completed through the wars fought by King David, God's royal temple (palace) was erected on Mount Zion, marking the full establishment of his kingdom among the kingdoms of the world. That triumph gave Israel hope that God's kingdom would never fail, that it would humble all the nations, and that ultimately it would engage all the kingdoms of the earth in God's praise. This psalm belonged to the liturgy of a religious festival celebrated at Jerusalem (perhaps the Feast of Tabernacles). It was probably accompanied by a liturgical procession that reenacted God's triumphant march from Sinai to the temple in Jerusalem
The versification is mainly by Stanley Wiersma and John H. Stek, members of the Psalter Hymnal 1987 Revision Committee. Lift Up Your Hearts prints stanzas 6-9 of the Psalter Hymnal 1987 version. Lift Up Your Hearts #211 rounds out the rest of the Psalm text, using a refrain taken from “Give Praise to God with Reverence Deep.”
GENEVAN 68 is usually attributed to Matthäus Greiter. It was published as a setting for Psalm 119 in Das dritt theil Strassburger Kirchenampt (1525), which Greiter and his friend Wolfgang Dachstein edited.
Greiter's tune was later published with Psalm 36 in the 1539 Strasbourg Psalter approved by John Calvin for worship in Geneva, and still later with Psalm 68 in the 1562 edition of the Genevan Psalter. This sturdy tune is known among Lutherans as O MENSCH BEWEIN' and in the British tradition (with alterations) as OLD 113TH. Written in the Ionian (major) mode, GENEVAN 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."
The melody consists of four long phrases shaped into a bar form (AABC). Its first phrase is identical to the first phrase of LASST UNS ERFREUEN. The harmonization was composed in 1985 by Howard Slenk, for the Psalter Hymnal 1987. GENEVAN 68 is a fine processional tune requiring a stately tempo.
John Stek (b. Oskaloosa, Iowa, March 7, 1925; d. Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 6, 2009) was professor of Old Testament, emeritus, at Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he taught from 1961 until 1991. He was the chair of the Committee on Bible Translation for the International Bible Society. He translated and coedited of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, of the New International Reader's Version (NIRV), and he was an author and associate editor for the NIV Study Bible. Stek reviewed each of the psalm versifications of the Psalter Hymnal 1987 prior to publication for their faithfulness to the Hebrew, and he also prepared the textual commentary on the psalms for the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.
Stanley Marvin Wiersma (b. Orange City, IA, 1930; d. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1986) versified Psalm 25 in 1980 for the Psalter Hymnal. Wiersma was a poet and professor of English at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 1959 until his sudden death in 1986. He attended Calvin as an undergraduate and received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1959. His love for the Genevan psalms is reflected in the two books of poetry for which he is most widely known: Purpaleanie and Other Permutations (1978) and Style and Class (1982), both written under the pseudonym Sietze Buning. He also wrote More Than the Ear Discovers: God in the Plays of Christopher Fry and translated many Dutch poems and hymn texts into English, including the children's hymns published in All Will Be New (1982).
Matthäus Greiter (b. Aichach, Bavaria, 1490; d. Strasbourg, France, 1550) studied at Freiburg University and became a monk and musician at the Strassburg Cathedral. Influenced by Wolfgang Dachstein, Greiter joined the Lutheran Church in 1524 and served several Lutheran congregations in the Strassburg 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).
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.”
Howard J. Slenk (b. Holland, MI, 1931) provided the harmonization for this song. Howard Slenk received his undergraduate education from Calvin College and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in Columbus; his dissertation was entitled The Huguenot Psalter in the Low Countries. He taught at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, and at Calvin College from 1967 until retiring in 1995. From 1970 to 1993 Slenk served as organist and director of music at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. His published works include A Well-Appointed Church Music (1960) and various articles on Genevan psalmody.