214

Why This Dark Conspiracy (Psalm 2)

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The confessions make it clear that the ascension of Christ opened the door to the rule of his kingdom. This fact is comforting to those who love him and is a fearful threat to those who despise him. The response therefore is praise and adoration from people of faith, and resistance from those who reject him.
 
Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 27 affirms “All authority, glory and sovereign power are given to him,” and reaffirms it in paragraph 43: “Jesus Christ rules over all.”
 
Consider the clear affirmation made in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 19, Question and Answer 50: “Christ ascended to heaven to show there that he is the head of his church, the one through whom the Father rules all things.”
 
It is no wonder that those who despise him join together to conspire against him, for Christ’s aim as Lord is to “destroy the devil’s work…every force which revolts against you and every conspiracy against your holy word” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 48, Question and Answer 123).

Additional Prayers

Mighty God and Creator of all, we are made in your image,
yet many deny you and despise the Messiah who is your Son.
By your Spirit, keep us humble and faithful
so that our lives may proclaim our Savior’s love
and inspire others to find their refuge in you.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 

Tune Information

Name
CHRIST IST ERSTANDEN
Key
a minor or modal
Meter
7.7.7.7.4 refrain 4.4.4.7.7.4

Musical Suggestion

Singing “Why This Dark Conspiracy” any Sunday to celebrate the reign of Christ would be appropriate, but it’s especially appropriate on Ascension Day, given the stanza 2 reference to “this Coronation Day.” Beginning the service with this hymn would wake people up to the startling challenge they are laying before all earthly rulers in honor of Christ. Or perhaps this could be sung after a sermon that challenges all leaders, large and small, to “Honor Christ as Lord of all.” Sing with full voice and bold accompaniment.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 103)
— Emily Brink

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 2 may be best known through that famous aria in Handel’s Messiah in which the bass thunders and the strings shudder: “Why do the nations so furiously rage together? And why do the peoples imagine a vain thing?” Psalm 2 doesn’t exactly start off in a way that invites congregations to sing! Yet this royal psalm is one of the most frequently quoted in the New Testament, and it’s applied to Christ, the Anointed One, the great Son of David.
 
This text and tune combination was published for the first time in Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship (2012). Martin Tel, senior editor of that collection, “It is a great match, [especially] for those who have associations with the Easter text.” Norman Goreham agreed: “When I saw the proposed setting for my psalm, I was really delighted… the ‘Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!’ and ‘Alleluia!’ lines respond very well to the intention of the stanzas they follow.”
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Norman J. Goreham (b. 1931) is a presbyter in the Methodist Church of New Zealand. Born and educated in England, he developed a love of Christian hymns as a boy during the Second World War, when, his mother, a devout woman, would sing hymns to her family during air raids to keep everyone’s spirits up. However he did not start writing hymn texts himself until he retired.
 
Ordained in 1958, he served in England, West Africa and the United States of America before taking up residence in New Zealand in 1976. He holds honors degrees in theology from two British universities, is married and has two adult children and two adult grandchildren.
 
He was the winner of the 1977 contest for a hymn to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators and a co-winner in the 2011 Macalester Plymouth Hymn Contest.
 
Other hymns and psalm settings of his have appeared in Hymns for the Journey (Gemini Press International), Singing the New Testament (Faith Alive Christian Resources), Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship (Faith Alive Christian Resources) and Gifts in Open Hands: More Worship Resources for the Global Community (The Pilgrim Press).
— Norman Goreman

Composer Information

Dale Grotenhuis (b. Cedar Grove, WI, 1931; d. Jenison, Mi, August 17, 2012) was a member of the 1987 Psalter Hymnal 1987 Revision Committee, and was professor of music and director of choral music at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa, from 1960 until he retired in 1994 to concentrate on composition. Educated at Calvin College; Michigan State University, Lansing; and Ohio State University, Columbus; he combined teaching with composition throughout his career and was a widely published composer of choral music. He also directed the Dordt choir in a large number of recordings, including many psalm arrangements found in the 1959 edition of the Psalter Hymnal.
— Bert Polman
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.