52

We Give Thanks Unto You (Psalm 136)

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 136 is a liturgical litany with a repeated phase throughout. That phrase ties together the historical review of God’s mighty deeds in the Exodus event. The text radiates a deep respect and fear of the Lord.
 
Sing! A New Creation

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The journey of the Israelites through the wilderness is a picture of God’s children as pilgrims on a long and sometimes difficult journey. Yet, through everything God has a plan, which is revealed in the unfolding of the covenant. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 33 testifies about a “story of God’s mighty acts in the unfolding of covenant history.” This unfolding of the covenant plan is a testimony, according to Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 18, of “the long road of redemption” for the Israelites and for God’s children living today.
52

We Give Thanks Unto You (Psalm 136)

Additional Prayers

Everlasting God,
your love is a banner unfurled over all times and places.
Help us to live into the story of your redemption,
joining the cast of those called to love and serve in your name.
All glory be to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
52

We Give Thanks Unto You (Psalm 136)

Tune Information

Name
BERAKAH
Key
e minor or modal
Meter
irregular

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

This song is reminiscent of traditional Israeli music. It is best sung by solo voice, with everyone joining in on the response. With a confident leader who tells a story more than sings a solo, try as a dialogue between leader and congregation with no accompaniment, or just adding keyboard and/or guitar to support the congregation. Guitarists could finger pick or strum their way through the piece. Keep the instrumentation spare and light; a single violin or clarinet could carry the melody, doubling the response each time.
 
The formality of diction offers an important clue about this song. Let the plod of long-traveling feet guide your selection of both tone and tempo. The Israelites probably did not run across the Red Sea, what with elderly folks, children, and household goods in tow. This should allow enough time for meditation on the rich phrase “for your love is never ending.” 
52

We Give Thanks Unto You (Psalm 136)

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 136 is a liturgical litany with a repeated phrase throughout. That phrase ties together the historical review of Gods mighty deeds in the Exodus event. The text radiates a deep respect and fear of the Lord, yet with joy. The text is reminiscent of traditional Israeli music, and is best sung by solo voice, with everyone joining in on the response. With a confident leader who tells a story more than sings a solo, sing as a dialogue between leader and congregation with no accompaniment, or adding just enough support from keyboard and/or guitar to keep everything moving from beginning to end with no breaks between stanzas.

Author and Composer Information

Marty Haugen (b. 1950), is a prolific liturgical composer with many songs included in hymnals across the liturgical spectrum of North American hymnals and beyond, with many songs translated into different languages. He was raised in the American Lutheran Church, received a BA in psychology from Luther College, yet found his first position as a church musician in a Roman Catholic parish at a time when the Roman Catholic Church was undergoing profound liturgical and musical changes after Vatican II. Finding a vocation in that parish to provide accessible songs for worship, he continued to compose and to study, receiving an MA in pastoral studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota. A number of liturgical settings were prepared for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and more than 400 of his compositions are available from several publishers, especially GIA Publications, who also produced some 30 recordings of his songs. He is composer-in-residence at Mayflower Community Congregational Church in Minneapolis and continues to compose and travel to speak and teach at worship events around the world.
— Emily Brink