301

How Blest Are Those Who Fear the LORD

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The second of the eight "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), 112 was probably composed in the post-exilic period by a priest or Levite for temple worship. In structure and theme it is a poetic twin of  Psalm 111, but while 111 sings the praise of the righteous God, 112 eulogizes the righteous one who fears the LORD. The opening and closing verses frame the development of the main theme by contrasting the blessedness of the righteous (v. 1; st. 1) and the unhappy end of the wicked (v. 10; st. 6)–a common theme in Old Testament wisdom literature (see also 1, 34, 37, 49, and 73). The psalmist notes that the children of the righteous share in "their great reward" (st. 1) and that prosperity comes to the merciful and pure (st. 2). Those who befriend the weak find peace and a good name (st. 3), and those who trust in God have security from all their foes (st. 4). The righteous are generous to the poor and are "lifted high in honor" (v. 9; st. 5), but the wicked and their ways will come to nothing (st. 6). The (altered) versification of this wisdom psalm comes from The Book of Psalms (1871), a text-only psalter that was later published with music in the 1887 Psalter. 
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Any song or testimony about the cries that comes from our nations and cities must be met with confessional statements about the mission of the church as listed here.
 
Our World Belongs to God, paragraphs 41-43 are explicit and pointed about the mission of the church: “In a world estranged from God, where happiness and peace are offered in many names and millions face confusing choices, we witness—with respect for followers of other ways—to the only one in whose name salvation is found: Jesus Christ.”
 
Later, Our World Belongs to God, paragraphs 52-54 point to the task of the church in seeking public justice and functioning as a peacemaker: “We call on our governments to work for peace and to restore just relationships. We deplore the spread of weapons in our world and on our streets with the risks they bring and the horrors they threaten…”
 
The Belhar Confession, section 3 calls the church to be a peacemaker, and section 4 calls the church “to bring about justice and true peace.”
 
Our Song of Hope, stanza 10 calls the church to seek “the welfare of the people” and to work “against inhuman oppression of humanity.”
301

How Blest Are Those Who Fear the LORD

Additional Prayers

God of Light,
in your commandments we find life, and in your wisdom is true happiness.
Inspire us to live generously and to act justly,
so that our lives may reflect your love and righteousness,
and your name may be praised, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
301

How Blest Are Those Who Fear the LORD

Tune Information

Name
MELCOMBE
Key
D Major
Meter
8.8.8.8

Recordings

301

How Blest Are Those Who Fear the LORD

Hymn Story/Background

The second of the eight "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), Psalm 112 was probably composed in the post-exilic period by a priest or Levite for temple worship. In structure and theme it is a poetic twin of  Psalm 111, but while 111 sings the praise of the righteous God, 112 eulogizes the righteous one who fears the LORD. Psalm 112 is a wisdom psalm that contrasts the blessedness of the righteous with the damnation of the wicked. The opening and closing verses frame the development of the main theme by contrasting the blessedness of the righteous (v. 1; st. 1) and the unhappy end of the wicked (v. 10; st. 6)–a common theme in Old Testament wisdom literature (see also 1, 34, 37, 49, and 73). The psalmist notes that the children of the righteous share in "their great reward" (st. 1) and that prosperity comes to the merciful and pure (st. 2). Those who befriend the weak find peace and a good name (st. 3), and those who trust in God have security from all their foes (st. 4). The righteous are generous to the poor and are "lifted high in honor" (v. 9; st. 5), but the wicked and their ways will come to nothing (st. 6). The (altered) versification of this wisdom psalm comes from The Book of Psalms (1871), a text-only psalter that was later published with music in the 1887 Psalter.
 
MELCOMBE was first used as an anonymous chant tune (with figured bass) in the Roman Catholic Mass and was published in 1782 in An Essay on the Church Plain Chant. It was first ascribed to Samuel Webbe and named MELCOMBE in Ralph Harrison's Sacred Harmony (1791), the first of many Protestant hymnals to contain this popular Roman Catholic tune. The tune title refers to Melcombe Regis, the northern part of Weymouth in Dorsetshire, England, made famous through frequent visits by King George III (1738-1820).
 
MELCOMBE has a steady rhythmic structure and a lot of stepwise intervals. The original setting had one dotted rhythm in the third phrase, which is deleted in many hymnals. The harmony borrows from Webbe's original bass line and from William H. Monk's harmonization of MELCOMBE for Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861). Sing this tune in two long lines, with a small pause at the end of the first to allow a breath before singing the second.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

The Psalter 1887 was a full music edition of the 1871 Book of Psalms but with music. The preface says:
 
The endeavor of the Committee has been to search the field of sacred music and to select only that which has highest merit and best adaptation to the sentiment and to congregational use. Tunes which have received the widest acceptance by the church at large have been given the preference. Many of the tunes in the Psalter have been retained. Some have been transferred to other selections. Two hundred and twenty-one tunes have been added. They are all of acknowledged merit and it is believed will find general acceptance. For convenience in use each selection is numbered, and the number corresponds with the number of the page.
 
In 1890, the True Reformed Protestant Dutch Church joined the Christian Reformed Church, becoming what we know now as Classis Hackensack. This group adopted the 1887 Psalter which also contained 190 hymns, grouped according to the fifty-two Lord’s Days of the Heidelberg Catechism, becoming one of two groups in the Christian Reformed Church singing something other than Psalms in Dutch. 
— Rebecca Hoeksema Snippe

Composer Information

Samuel Webbe's (b. London, England, 1740; d. London, 1816) father died soon after Samuel was born without providing financial security for the family. Thus Webbe received little education and was apprenticed to a cabinet­maker at the age of eleven. However, he was determined to study and taught himself Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German, and Italian while working on his apprentice­ship. He also worked as a music copyist and received musical training from Carl Barbant, organist at the Bavarian Embassy. Restricted at this time in England, Roman Catholic worship was freely permitted in the foreign embassies. Because Webbe was Roman Catholic, he became organist at the Portuguese Chapel and later at the Sardinian and Spanish chapels in their respective embassies. He wrote much music for Roman Catholic services and composed hymn tunes, motets, and madrigals. Webbe is considered an outstanding composer of glees and catches, as is evident in his nine published collections of these smaller choral works. He also published A Collection of Sacred Music (c. 1790), A Collection of Masses for Small Choirs (1792), and, with his son Samuel (the younger), Antiphons in Six Books of Anthems (1818).
— Bert Polman
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