35

You Are Our God; We Are Your People

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Originally titled "Covenant Song," Hoekema's storylike text recounts various points in salvation history when God made covenant promises with his people: to Noah (st. 1; In Gen. 9 and also 1 Pet. 3, where Peter relates the flood story to baptism), to Abraham and Sarah (st. 2), and to us in the new covenant in Christ (st. 3), with baptism the sign of our union with Christ and his body, the people of God (st. 4). This hymn was first published in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook 
 
Seven passages are referred to in this Litany, each of which is undergirded by the promise of covenantal protection expressed in Isaiah 43:1-7.
 
Howard Vanderwell

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song affirms that, as children of God, our identity comes from God who calls us his own. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 2 speaks of God’s promise which first came to Abraham (paragraph 21) and gives even more firm assurance when it says that “from the beginning through all the crises of our times, until the kingdom fully comes, God keeps covenant forever...”
 
The unity of Old Testament and New Testament covenant promises is highlighted in this song. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 27, Question and Answer 74 also speaks to this by explaining that what “was done in the Old Testament by circumcision...was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.”
 
The phrase “you are my people” recurs in this song to indicate our covenant tie with God, a truth that is underscored by Belgic Confession, Article 34, when it says that by baptism “…we are…set apart…that we may wholly belong to him.”
35

You Are Our God; We Are Your People

Tune Information

Name
JANNA
Key
D Major
Meter
irregular

Recordings

35

You Are Our God; We Are Your People

Hymn Story/Background

David Hoekema composed both the text and the tune for this hymn in June 1978 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the baptism of his daughter Janna, for whom he named the tune. Hoekema states:
One morning in June, while I walked the half-mile up the hill from my home to my office, a spirited little tune hummed its way into my mind, and at the same time some words and ideas that I had toyed with took clearer shape in relation to the tune. During the next week or so I added the harmony – a dissonant but rolling harmony that seemed to fit the tune especially well – and refined the text. I believe that this hymn was a gift given to me to celebrate my daughter's baptism.
— Bert Polman

Author and Composer Information

David A. Hoekema (b. Paterson, NJ, 1950) is currently an professor of philosophy at his alma mater, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received a Ph.D. from Princeton University, taught philosophy at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota (1977-1984), and was executive director of the American Philosophical Association while teaching philosophy at the University of Delaware (1984-1993). In addition to many journal articles on philosophical issues, he has published Rights and Wrongs: Coercion, Punishment and the State (1986).
— Bert Polman
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