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Nations, Clap Your Hands (Psalm 47)

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Ascribed to (or assigned to) "the Sons of Korah," this celebration of the universal reign of God serves as a powerful congregational testimony to the sure triumph of God's kingdom. The psalmist calls all nations to join in the praise of this "great King" (v. 2), whose victories make his people secure in their inheritance (st. 1). God is "King of all the earth" (v. 7; st. 2), and God's universal reign draws the nobility of the nations to assemble around his throne (st. 3). In language and theme Psalm 47 shows much affinity with Psalms 93-99. It stands between two songs (46, 48) that celebrate the security of the city of God, thus reinforcing their theme. It's likely that this psalm played a role in the temple liturgy, but its place in that liturgy is uncertain. Cor Wm. Barendrecht (PHH 326) originally versified this psalm in an unrhymed text in 1980; the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee added rhyme and recast a number of lines to arrive at the current versification. Another partial setting of Psalm 47 is at 166. 
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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).

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

Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord , the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.
He has established the world; it shall never be moved.
Since, then, we have a great high priest
who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness,
so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help in time of need.
—Psalm 47:1-2; 93:1; Hebrews 4:14, 16, 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

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

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

Assurance

Our hope for a new creation
is not tied to what humans can do,
for we believe that one day
every challenge to God’s rule
will be crushed.
His kingdom will fully come,
and the Lord will rule.
We long for that day
when our bodies are raised,
the Lord wipes away our tears,
and we dwell forever
in the presence of God.
We will take our place
in the new creation,
where there will be
no more death
or mourning
or crying
or pain,
and the Lord will be our light.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 55-56
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Blessing/Benediction

Grace and peace to you
from him who is, and who was, and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,
the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—
to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
—Revelation 1:4-6, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

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

In the presence of God, who gives life to all things,
and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony
before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,
I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame
until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which he will bring about at the right time—
he who is the blessed and only Sovereign,
the King of kings and Lord of lords.
It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light,
whom no one has ever seen or can see;
to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
—1 Timothy 6:13-16, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

King of all creation,
we wait for the day when, with all the hosts of heaven, we will sing:
“The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he shall reign forever.”
Until that day, receive the praise of our hearts and direct the pattern of our lives
so that in word and action we may exhibit your kingdom to a watching world. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
GENEVAN 47
Key
D Major
Meter
5.5.5.5.5.5 D

Hymn Story/Background

Ascribed to (or assigned to) "the Sons of Korah," this celebration of the universal reign of God serves as a powerful congregational testimony to the sure triumph of God's kingdom. The psalmist calls all nations to join in the praise of this great King, whose victories make his people secure in their inheritance (st. 1). God is "King of all the earth" (st. 2), and God's universal reign draws the nobility of the nations to assemble around his throne (st. 3). In language and theme, Psalm 47 shows much affinity with Psalms 93-99. It stands between two songs (Psalms 46, 48) that celebrate the security of the city of God, thus reinforcing their theme. It's likely that this psalm played a role in the temple liturgy, but its place in that liturgy is uncertain. Cor Wm. Barendrecht originally versified this psalm in an unrhymed text in 1980; the Psalter Hymnal 1987 Revision Committee added rhyme and recast a number of lines to arrive at the current versification.
 
GENEVAN 47 was first published in the 1551 edition of the Genevan Psalter, which was supervised by Louis Bourgeois; Claude Goudimel harmonized it with the melody in the tenor in 1564. This tune could well serve as the model for what Shakespeare called "Genevan jigs." The rhythmic pattern is the same for each of the six long phrases of this major (Ionian) tune. Use a bright organ registration, and do not hesitate to try percussion; in fact, the biblical text calls for clapping.
 
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Louis Bourgeois (b. Paris, France, c. 1510; d. Paris, 1561), in both his early and later years, wrote French songs to entertain the rich, but in the history of church music he is known especially for his contribution to the Genevan Psalter. Apparently moving to Geneva in 1541, the same year John Calvin returned to Geneva from Strasbourg, Bourgeois served as cantor and master of the choristers at both St. Pierre and St. Gervais, which is to say he was music director there under the pastoral leadership of Calvin. Bourgeois used the choristers to teach the new psalm tunes to the congregation.
 
The extent of Bourgeois's involvement in the Genevan Psalter is a matter of scholar­ly debate. Calvin had published several partial psalters, including one in Strasbourg in 1539 and another in Geneva in 1542, with melodies by unknown composers. In 1551 another French psalter appeared in Geneva, Eighty-three Psalms of David, with texts by Marot and de Beze, and with most of the melodies by Bourgeois, who supplied thirty­ four original tunes and thirty-six revisions of older tunes. This edition was republished repeatedly, and later Bourgeois's tunes were incorporated into the complete Genevan Psalter (1562). However, his revision of some older tunes was not uniformly appreciat­ed by those who were familiar with the original versions; he was actually imprisoned overnight for some of his musical arrangements but freed after Calvin's intervention. In addition to his contribution to the 1551 Psalter, Bourgeois produced a four-part harmonization of fifty psalms, published in Lyons (1547, enlarged 1554), and wrote a textbook on singing and sight-reading, La Droit Chemin de Musique (1550). He left Geneva in 1552 and lived in Lyons and Paris for the remainder of his life.
— Bert Polman

The music of Claude Goudimel (b. Besançon, France, c. 1505; d. Lyons, France, 1572) was first published in Paris, and by 1551 he was composing harmonizations for some Genevan psalm tunes-initially for use by both Roman Catholics and Protestants. He became a Calvinist in 1557 while living in the Huguenot community in Metz. When the complete Genevan Psalter with its unison melodies was published in 1562, Goudimel began to compose various polyphonic settings of all the Genevan tunes. He actually composed three complete harmonizations of the Genevan Psalter, usually with the tune in the tenor part: simple hymn-style settings (1564), slightly more complicated harmonizations (1565), and quite elaborate, motet-like settings (1565-1566). The various Goudimel settings became popular throughout Calvinist Europe, both for domestic singing and later for use as organ harmonizations in church. Goudimel was one of the victims of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of Huguenots, which oc­curred throughout France.
 
— Bert Polman
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