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How Long Will You Forget Me, Lord

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Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Difficult times occur in the lives and communities of God’s people because this is a fallen world. The confessions demonstrate this perspective:
  • Belgic Confession, Article 15 teaches that “…by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race…a corruption of the whole human nature...” As a result, God’s people are “guilty and subject to physical and spiritual death, having become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all [our] ways” (Article 14). In addition, “The devils and evil spirits are so corrupt that they are enemies of God and of everything good. They lie in wait for the church and every member of it like thieves, with all their power, to destroy and spoil everything by their deceptions” (Article 12).
  • Our World Belongs to God continues to affirm that “God has not abandoned the work of his hands,” nevertheless “our world, fallen into sin, has lost its first goodness...” (paragraph 4). And now “all spheres of life—family and friendship, work and worship school and state, play and art—bear the wounds of our rebellion” (paragraph 16).
Yet, in a fallen world, God’s providential care is the source of great assurance, comfort and strength. Through these thoughts, our trust in God is inspired.
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13 is a reminder that God’s providence reassures us that God leads and governs all in this world “according to his holy will…nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.” Further, this Confession identifies that this “gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father, who watches over us with fatherly care...in this thought we rest.”
  • Belgic Confession, Article 13, is a reminder that much is beyond human understanding and so “we do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 we testify that we “trust God so much that [we] do not doubt that he will provide whatever [we] need for body and soul and will turn to [our] good whatever adversity he sends upon [us] in this sad world.”
  • In Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, Question and Answer 28, we are assured that through our trust in the providence of God we can have “good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love.”
  • When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we ask not to be brought into the time of trial but rescued from evil. In doing so we ask that the Lord will “uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle...” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 127)
Belgic Confession, Article 26 speaks about the intercession of Christ as the ascended Lord. “We have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” We, therefore, do not offer our prayers as though saints could be our intercessor, nor do we offer them on the “basis of our own dignity but only on the basis of the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.” Because Jesus Christ is our sympathetic High Priest, we approach the throne “in full assurance of faith.”
 
No greater assurance can be found than that expressed in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “I am not my own by I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
 

In all difficult times, we eagerly await the final day when God “will set all things right, judge evil, and condemn the wicked” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 57).

Additional Prayers

Loving God,
in Jesus Christ you have come so near
that our hearts can sing even when we feel most alone.
Guard our thoughts, guide our steps, and help us to put our trust in no one but you. Amen.
 

Tune Information

Name
MARTYRDOM
Key
G Major or modal
Meter
8.6.8.6

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

When praying out of painful circumstances, consider the following structure for prayer.
  • Introduction: A solo instrument, perhaps a saxophone, plays the melody alone. Or use the organ introduction, perhaps using a reed stop on the organ for the left-hand melody.
  • Spoken prayer
  • Stanza 1: Sung unaccompanied by a male soloist, not necessarily standing in front, but perhaps miked from the back. The lament should not attempt to dramatize the text; the folk melody in and of itself will carry the appropriate depth of emotion, so sing it in good folk fashion, with sturdiness and strength, even with an edge of anger, rather than from a beaten-down attitude. Either sing completely unaccompanied or have the organ or another instrument play the first two-and-a-half measures of the right-hand part, dropping out when the soloist begins singing.
  • Spoken prayer
  • Stanza 2: Sung unaccompanied by the choir from the hymnal version, either all in harmony as written, or—for a low lament and closer to the original—place the tenors on the melody, the altos on the tenor line, and the sopranos on the alto line. One or two basses could join the melody to make sure it comes through; the rest of the basses stay on their line. Again, sing with strength.
  • Spoken prayer
  • Stanza 3: Sing twice; the first time the congregation and choir should sing in unison (either unaccompanied or with organ support); then repeat in canon, with the choir following the congregation after one measure. 
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 44)
— Emily Brink

Hymn Story/Background

Christopher Idle, the author, suggests that "the fourth stanza seems to have a message peculiarly relevant to a world where many in east and west boast of their weapons of war and rely on them to preserve 'peace.'"
 
MARTYRDOM was originally an eighteenth-century Scottish folk melody used for the ballad "Helen of Kirkconnel." Hugh Wilson adapted MARTYRDOM into a hymn tune in duple meter around 1800. A triple-meter version of the tune was first published by Robert A. Smith in his Sacred Music (1825), a year after Wilson's death. A legal dispute concerning who was the actual composer of MARTYRDOM arose and was settled in favor of Wilson. However, Smith's triple-meter arrangement is the one chosen most often. The tune's title presumably refers to the martyred Scottish Covenantor James Fenwick, whose last name is also the name of the town where Wilson lived. Consequently, in Scotland this tune has always had melancholy associations.

MARTYRDOM has an effective melodic contour. Sing in harmony with subdued accompaniment. One pulse per bar permits singing in two long lines rather than four phrases.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Christopher Martin Idle (b. Bromley, Kent, England, 1938) wrote this versification in 1969; it was first published in Psalm Praise (1973). Idle was educated at Elthan College, St. Peter's College, Oxford, and Clifton Theological College in Bristol, and was ordained in the Church of England. He served churches in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria; London; and Oakley, Suffolk; and recently returned to London, where he is involved in various hymnal projects. A prolific author of articles on the Christian's public responsibilities, Idle has also published The Lion Book of Favorite Hymns (1980) and at least one hundred of his own hymns and biblical paraphrases. Some of his texts first appeared in hymnals published by the Jubilate Group, with which he is associated. He was also editor of Anglican Praise (1987).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Hugh Wilson (b. Fenwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, c. 1766; d. Duntocher, Scotland, 1824) learned the shoemaker trade from his father. He also studied music and mathematics and became proficient enough in various subjects to become a part-time teacher to the villagers. Around 1800 he moved to Pollokshaws to work in the cotton mills and later moved to Duntocher, where he became a draftsman in the local mill. He also made sundials and composed hymn tunes as a hobby. Wilson was a member of the Secession Church, which had separated from the Church of Scotland. He served as a manager and precentor in the church in Duntocher and helped found its first Sunday school. It is thought that he composed and adapted a number of psalm tunes, but only two have survived because he gave instructions shortly before his death that all his music manuscripts were to be destroyed.
— Bert Polman

Although largely self-taught, Robert A. Smith (b. Reading, Berkshire, England, 1780; d. Edinburgh, Scotland, 1829) was an excellent musician. By the age of ten he played the violin, cello, and flute, and was a church chorister. From 1802 to 1817 he taught music in Paisley and was precentor at the Abbey; from 1823 until his death he was precentor and choirmaster in St. George's Church, Edinburgh. He enlarged the repertoire of tunes for psalm singing in Scotland, raised the precentor skills to a fine art, and greatly improved the singing of the church choirs he directed. Smith published his church music in Sacred Harmony (1820, 1825) and compiled a six-volume collection of Scottish songs, The Scottish Minstrel (1820-1824).
— Bert Polman

Nolan Williams (b. 1969) is a musicologist, theologian, American songwriter, and producer whose professional career defies conventional boundaries.
Best known for his work as Chief Music Editor of the bestselling African American Heritage Hymnal—a critically acclaimed compendium of music, with sales now surpassing 300,000 books worldwide, Williams is a noted scholar who has lectured extensively, including keynote addresses for the National Academy of Religion, Yale University’s Parks-King Lecture Series, Festival Musica y Filosofia (Naples, Italy), and Georgetown University Law School. He has also been featured on PBS, BET, the Word network, and internationally in the UK, France, Italy, and Slovenia.
 
Williams has written and produced music for television, film, and live events of national and international prominence. His eclectic compositional library includes: songwriting collaborations on numerous Grammy-nominated projects; commissioned compositions by Georgetown University and the National Symphony Orchestra; musical works performed by some of the country’s leading orchestras, including the Charleston Symphony, Memphis Symphony, and Kennedy Center Opera House orchestras; and, original gospel songs featured on his debut CD, inSpiration, released nationwide in 2010. He has collaborated with a range of industry artists—from Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and India.Arie to Denyce Graves, Yolanda Adams, and Michael McDonald.
 
Through NEWorks Productions, Williams has produced inspirational arts programming with the Smithsonian Institute, the U.S. Army, Georgetown University, the Arts and Humanities Council of Washington, DC, and the Dallas-based Black Academy of Arts and Letters. Williams and NEWorks have been especially privileged to collaborate with the Kennedy Center on a number of landmark projects, including musical direction of the finale for the 77th Birthday Tribute for Senator Edward M. Kennedy and production of the 105 Voices of History HBCU National Choir concert. Most recently, Williams has worked alongside Garth Ross, Director of the Kennedy Center’s Performing Arts for Everyone program, to plan an unprecedented nine-day celebration, as the Artistic Consultant for Joyful Sounds: Gospel Across America. Williams is also the Artistic Director for the National Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever full concert of African American sacred music on Saturday, April 24, 2010.
 
Williams serves as Minister of Music at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He also consults with numerous churches across the country on matters of music ministry and worship. In October 2010, Williams will return to his alma mater, Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio), to conduct master classes and serve as Music Director for the Northern Ohio Hymn Festival.
— Kennedy Center
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.