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To the Hills I Lift My Eyes

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 121 is one of fifteen "Songs of Ascents" (120-134), psalms the Israelites sang as they went up to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Its main theme–that the LORD is the unfailing Protector of those who look to him–surely made it appropriate for such use. However, it is equally appropriate for God's pilgrims on the journey of life. We confess that our security comes from the LORD, the Maker and Ruler of all creation, and receive assurance that the LORD never sleeps (st. 1), but watches over us day and night to protect us from harm no matter where we go (st. 2). The (altered) versification is from the 1912 Psalter. Other settings of Psalm 121 are at 180 and 448.
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song includes a plea and a prayer seeking God’s leading and care. Those who seek this leading can know that the Holy Spirit always aims to provide just such care for the believer. He not only renews our hearts, but also “leads us into truth, and helps us to pray, stands by us in our need, and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 29).

Additional Prayers

Maker of heaven and earth,
we trust you to keep us in your care.
Guard us from evil, protect us from harm.
Help us to know you, and knowing you to follow you,
so that all our comings and goings may conform to your purpose for our lives,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
GUIDE
Key
G Major or modal
Meter
7.7.7.7 D

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 121 is one of fifteen "Songs of Ascents" (120-134), psalms the Israelites sang as they went up to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Its main theme–that the LORD is the unfailing Protector of those who look to him–surely made it appropriate for such use. However, it is equally appropriate for God's pilgrims on the journey of life. We confess that our security comes from the LORD, the Maker and Ruler of all creation, and receive assurance that the LORD never sleeps (st. 1), but watches over us day and night to protect us from harm no matter where we go (st. 2). The (altered) versification is from the 1912 Psalter.
 
GUIDE has been associated with Psalm 121 since the 1887 Psalter. GUIDE is a rounded bar form (AABA); it has basically one rhythmic pattern and a very simple harmony. One antiphonal arrangement that works nicely is to have a soloist ask the opening question and everyone sing the rest in reply. The tune's simplicity invites unaccompa­nied singing in harmony.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

The 1912 Psalter was the first ecumenical psalter published in the United States and the most widely used metrical psalter of the twentieth century in North America.  The United Presbyterian Church invited all other Reformed and Presbyterian denominations to join them in the effort to provide a new versifications of the psalms; six Presbyterian denominations, as well as the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America joined in the effort in revising the 1887 Psalter (whose texts actually dated back to the 1871 Book of Psalms; the 1887 edition had added music to the texts.).  The 1912 Psalter included all the psalms in 413 settings, eight doxologies, and the three Lukan canticles (Song of Mary, Song of Zechariah, and Song of Simeon).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Converted to Christianity as a youth at a mission in Buffalo, New York, Marcus Morris Wells (b. Cooperstown, NY, 1815; d. Hartwick, NY, 1895) spent most of his life near Hartwick as a farmer and maker of farm implements. He is remembered in hymnody for writing both the text and tune of "Holy Spirit, Faithful Guide." "On a Saturday afternoon, October 1858, while at work in my cornfield, the sentiment of the hymn came to me," writes Wells. "The next day, Sunday, being a very stormy day, I finished the hymn and wrote the tune for it and sent it to Prof. Isaac B. Woodbury." Isaac Woodbury was the editor of the New York Musical Pioneer, and the original text and tune were first published in that periodical's November 1858 issue.
— Bert Polman
General Settings
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