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Our Help Is in the Name of God the LORD

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 124:8 contains the basic affirmation of these songs.
Other expressions of such confidence can be found in Psalms 23,  37:1-7, 91, 104, 121, 124, and 139:1-12; also in Matthew 6:25-34.
God the maker of the heavens and the earth is a reflection of Genesis 1 and 2.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

In a world with many threats and enemies, we find hope and security in his fatherly care. Both Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism put significant focus on the Providence of God and the care God provides for us. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 professes that he “will provide whatever I need for body and soul” and that we are “completely in his hand.” In Belgic Confession, Article 13 professes that he “watches over us with fatherly care.”

Additional Prayers

Maker of heaven and earth,
as you rescued Daniel from the lions, protect us from the evil that would consume us.
As you saved Noah from the flood, keep us from drowning in trouble.
You have freed us from the power of sin, blessed the work of our minds and hands,
and given us eternal life—all through Jesus Christ.
We praise and thank you, now and always. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
GENEVAN 124 (OLD 124TH)
Key
F Major or modal
Meter
10.10.10.10.10

Hymn Story/Background

For years in the Reformed tradition, worship services began with Psalm 124:8, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth,” in what was called the Votum (Latin for a vow or promise). In fact, the Reformed Church in America has a Constitutional Liturgy that states, “The service of worship ordinarily begins with the Votum, Sentences, and Salutation.” Martin Tel took that final verse of Psalm 124 as the first line as well as the closing lines of his setting of Psalm 124.
 
The historic melody for Psalm 124 in the Reformed tradition is appropriately named GENEVAN 124, a five-line melody and one of the best known in Genevan Psalter ever since it was first published in 1551. It was soon adapted in English and Scottish Psalters by either smoothing out the original third line—which was originally more rhythmically lively (and then named OLD 124th), or even by removing that middle line; that version of the tune, named TOULON, is also still found in many hymnals. 
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Martin Tel (b. 1967) is the C. F. Seabrook Director of Music at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. He conducts the seminary choirs, teaches courses in church music, and administers the music for the daily seminary worship services. He served as senior editor of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship (2012). His love for music began in a dairy barn in rural Washington State, where he heard his father belt out psalms and hymns while milking the cows. Martin earned degrees in church music and theology from Dordt College, the University of Notre Dame, Calvin Theological Seminary, and the University of Kansas. He has served as minister of music in Christian Reformed, Reformed Church in America, and Presbyterian congregations. With his wife, Sharilyn, he is raising three children in Princeton.

Composer Information

The Genevan Psalter is the major gift of the Reformed branch of the Reformation to the song of the church. John Calvin (1509-1564) first experienced congregational singing of the psalms in Strasbourg when serving as a pastor of French exiles there, and when returning to Geneva in 1541 he finally persuaded the city council to permit congregational singing, which they had banned entirely under the influence of Ulrich Zwingli. Just two months after returning to Geneva, Calvin wrote in his Ecclesiastical Ordinances: "It will be good to introduce ecclesiastical songs, the better to incite the people to pray to and praise God. For a beginning the little children are to be taught; then with time all the church will be able to follow." Calvin set about overseeing the development of several metrical psalms with melodies, rather than the hymns, or chorales, of the Lutheran tradition, and also in contrast to the published psalters with texts only that followed in England and Scotland. The emerging Genevan Psalter was published in instalments until completed in 1562, including the 150 psalms, the Ten Commandments and the Song of Simeon. He employed the best French poets and composers to prepare metrical settings rather than continuing to chant the psalms, since poetry in meter was the popular form of the day—and also the choice for the Lutheran chorale.
 
The publication event was the largest in publishing history until then; twenty-four printers in Geneva alone, plus presses in Paris, Lyons, and elsewhere produced more than 27,000 copies in the first two years; more than 100,000 copies were available in over thirty editions. The Genevan Psalter was extremely popular, and almost immediately translated into Dutch, Hungarian, and German. Due to the intense persecution of the French Huguenots in the 16th century, the center of activity of the Reformed branch of the Reformation moved away from France and especially to the Netherlands, and from there to Indonesia, South Africa, and North America. The most recent translation (2004) of the entire psalter is into Japanese. The most recent English translation of the entire Genevan Psalter is available with melodies from the Canadian Reformed Book of Praise, available at http://www.canrc.org/?page=23 .
 
Calvin’s goal was to provide a distinct tune for every psalm, so that each psalm would have its own identity. Every tune would then bring to mind a particular psalm. The psalter didn’t quite reach this goal: it contains 125 different tunes. Today, only a few of those Genevan tunes are in wide use, among them the psalm tune most widely known around the world, often identified as OLD HUNDRETH, or simply, “The Doxology.” 
— Emily Brink
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