311

Unless the Lord Builds the House

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song focuses on the home, family, and marriage, a topic with helpful references in the confessions. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 46, testifies to the implications of living as “the family of God.”
 
Our Song of Hope, stanza 13 calls God’s children to be “stewards of marriage with its lifelong commitment to love...”
311

Unless the Lord Builds the House

Additional Prayers

Heavenly Father,
in all our toil and striving, at work and in the home,
may we always trust in your blessing rather than in our own efforts,
through the finished work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
311

Unless the Lord Builds the House

Tune Information

Name
NADA
Key
B♭ Major
Meter
7.7.7.11.7.7

Recordings

311

Unless the Lord Builds the House

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 127 offers two strong images in its opening verses: the building of a house and the guarding of a walled city. We typically associate those activities with human agents: houses with human builders and city walls with human guards. The Psalm, however, points to the agency of God as the essential actor and notes that unless God is involved vanity will result. Vanity is a potent word in the Wisdom tradition of the Bible. In the words of Ecclesiastes, vanity is “meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” In more contemporary language, this musical setting has translated the phrase to “all of it comes to nothing.”
 
An expanded version of this song with a responsorial chanted setting of the rest of Psalm 127 was first published in Psalms for All Seasons 127B.
— Gregg DeMey

Composer Information

Paul Detterman is currently the Executive Director of Presbyterians for Renewal and the Fellowship of Presbyterians. He has his bachelor’s degree in Sacred Music from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Master of Church Music from Concordia University and a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Boston University School of Theology. Detterman is a composer of choral, solo, handbells, and organ music. He has served the Church as a Director of Music and a Pastor, and is a frequent preacher, worship leader, and conference/retreat speaker. He has published numerous works on worship, and was a contributing consultant for Lift Up Your Hearts. 
— Laura de Jong

Author and Composer Information

Gregg DeMey (b. 1972) was born in Grand Rapids, MI, studied at Calvin College (BA Music Theory and Composition), and graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1998 (MTS) and 2006 (M.Div). He served as  worship pastor at Granite Springs in Sacramento, CA; as a church planter at Lakeside Church in Ludington, MI; and is currently the Teaching Pastor at Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church in Elmhurst, IL.
— Gregg DeMey
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