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How Lovely, Lord, How Lovely (Psalm 84)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 84 expresses the longing of a pilgrim or an outcast believer for sweet communion with God at the temple (as does Psalm 42). Faint with longing, the psalmist yearns “for the courts of the Lord” where faithful worshipers of all times and places are blessed and even birds find safe haven (st. 1). Just the thought of being in God’s presence invigorates those who are on pilgrimage to God’s holy place. Pleading to be restored to the temple – if only to a humble place of service (st. 2) – the psalmist confidently declares that God is gracious to those who trust and serve the Lord (st. 3).
 
Sing! A New Creation
 
This is one of the psalms of Zion in which the psalmist yearns for communion with God in his temple. A spoken New Testament interpretation that focuses on God’s people as his temple might well precede the singing of this Old Testament confession of faith.
 
Bert Polman

Additional Prayers

God of all loveliness and beauty,
even the humblest of creatures finds its home close to you.
May your church be a place of safety to every wanderer who seeks you,
every believer who trusts you, and every disciple who follows you.
We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
MERLE'S TUNE
Key
G Major or modal
Meter
7.6.7.6 D

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 84 expresses the longing of an outcast believer or a pilgrim for sweet communion with God at the temple. Faint with longing, the psalmist yearns for the courts of the LORD, where faithful worshipers of all times and places are blessed and even birds find safe haven (st. 1). Just the thought of being in God's presence invigorates those who are on pilgrimage to God's holy place.
 
Arlo Duba prepared this metrical paraphrase of Psalm 84 with Hal Hopson’s tune in mind.
 
MERLE’S TUNE was composed by Hal H. Hopson, a prolific composer of music for the church. He composed this tune in 1983 for Michael Perry’s paraphrase of the Song of Zechariah, and named the tune after his older sister, who first taught him piano. 
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Arlo Duba (b. 1929) was an administrator at Princeton Seminary and is professor of worship (emeritus) and former dean at the University of Dubuque (Iowa) Theological School.

Composer Information

Hal H. Hopson (b. Texas, 1933) is a prolific composer, arranger, clinician, teacher and promoter of congregational song, with more than 1300 published works, especially of hymn and psalm arrangements, choir anthems, and creative ideas for choral and organ music in worship. Born in Texas, with degrees from Baylor University (BA, 1954), and Southern Baptist Seminary (MSM, 1956), he served churches in Nashville, TN, and most recently at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas. He has served on national boards of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians and the Choristers Guild, and taught numerous workshops at various national conferences. In 2009, a collection of sixty four of his hymn tunes were published in Hymns for Our Time: The Collected Tunes of Hal H. Hopson.
 
 

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