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Give Praise to God with Reverence Deep (Psalm 68:20-35)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

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 (see also 24).

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

Lord God,
when we struggle to worship you as Lord,
show us again the beauty and power of your rule.
Teach us again that serving you is the path to true freedom.
May your Holy Spirit strengthen us today,
leading us to honor and worship you more deeply,
not only with the words we sing
but also with the lives we lead before your face,
through Jesus, our reigning Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— 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

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the one who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty.
Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.
Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,
for your judgments have been revealed. Amen.
—from Revelation 11:17; 12:10, NIV; 15:3-4, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Confession

Call to Confession
While we claim to celebrate the ascension of our Lord,
the way we live proclaims our lack of faith
in his power to deal with the world.
Let us confess the incongruity between our faith and practice.
Let us pray.
Prayer of Confession
We come, O Lord, on this day of glory to confess our lack of trust.
While we sing of your lordship over all creation,
we have too often acted as though you are powerless
in the face of today’s events.
Help us to live with confidence in your presence today
and in hope for life with you forever. Amen.
[Reformed Worship 11:22]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Assurance

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

Blessing/Benediction

People of God, go now in peace, knowing that
if we suffer with Christ, we shall also rejoice with him;
if we die with Christ, we shall also rise with him.
Go in peace, letting your old self die with Christ,
and your new self, glorious with purpose and strength,
prepare for the great day of our ascended Lord’s return.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

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.

Eternal God, mighty in the heavens,
you brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ,
lifting him to life and drawing him up
into the glory he shares with you and the Holy Spirit.
Stretch our minds and hearts toward your majestic love.
Raise our eyes, lift our heads,
expand our vision of you
and your sovereign purposes in the world
that rest upon the strength
of our ascended Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Tune Information

Name
GENEVAN 68 (OLD 113TH)
Key
D Major
Meter
8.8.7.8.8.7 D

Recordings

Hymn Story/Background

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.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

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.
 
 
— Bert Polman

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).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

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).
 
 
 
— Bert Polman

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

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.
— Bert Polman
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