573

Not unto Us, O Lord of Heaven

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Number five of the eight "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), 115 was probably composed by a priest or Levite as a liturgy of praise for temple worship. Some scholars suggest that it was originally used at the dedication of the second temple (Ezra 6:16) after the return from Babylonian exile. This psalm stands third in the "Egyptian Hallel" used in Jewish liturgy at the annual religious festivals prescribed in the Torah. At Passover, Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the meal; 115 through 118 were sung after the meal. In this psalm many voices speak. Here is a probable scenario: vv. 1-8, 12-13, and 16-18–the people; vv. 9-11–the Levitical choir; vv. 14-15–a priest. The psalmist praises God for his love, faithfulness, and sovereign power (st. 1, 5). He belittles the idols of the nations (st. 2), exhorts Israel to trust in the LORD (st. 3), and pronounces a blessing upon God's people (st. 4). The (altered) versification is from the 1912 Psalter.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

What we know as the attributes of God reveal his character and being. For these, he is worthy of praise and adoration. Even before he says or does anything, he is praise-worthy. The opening words of Belgic Confession, Article 1 declare that God is “eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.”
 

The Lord’s Prayer ends with a doxology, and Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52, Question and Answer 128 extrapolates: “Your holy name…should receive all the praise, forever.” After expressing our trust in the total care of God for all things, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26 declares, “God is able to do this because he is Almighty God and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.” And so we express our praise and adoration to God for who he is.

Additional Prayers

The dead cannot praise you, O God;
wicked people do not want to praise you,
and careless people neglect to praise you.
Inspire your redeemed and faithful people to turn from all that is false
and to love and serve you alone, shouting “Hallelujah!” now for forever. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
VATER UNSER
Key
c minor or modal
Meter
8.8.8.8.8.8

Hymn Story/Background

Number five of the eight "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), Psalm 115 was probably composed by a priest or Levite as a liturgy of praise for temple worship. Some scholars suggest that it was originally used at the dedication of the second temple (Ezra 6:16) after the return from Babylonian exile. This psalm stands third in the "Egyptian Hallel" used in Jewish liturgy at the annual religious festivals prescribed in the Torah. At Passover, Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the meal; 115 through 118 were sung after the meal. The psalmist praises God for his love, faithfulness, and sovereign power (st. 1). He belittles the idols of the nations (st. 2), and exhorts Israel to trust in the LORD (st. 3).
 
Martin Luther's versification of the Lord's Prayer was set to this tune in Valentin Schumann's hymnal, Geistliche Lieder (1539); the tune, whose composer remains unknown, had some earlier use. The tune name derives from Luther's German incipit: “Vater unser im Himmelreich….” Because VATER UNSER found later use in British and Scottish psalters as a setting for Psalm 112, it acquired the alternate title OLD 112TH in some hymnals.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

The 1912 Psalter was the first ecumenical psalter published in the United States and the most widely used metrical psalter of the twentieth century in North America. The United Presbyterian Church invited all other Reformed and Presbyterian denominations to join them in the effort to provide a new versifications of the psalms; six Presbyterian denominations, as well as the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America joined in the effort in revising the 1887 Psalter (whose texts actually dated back to the 1871 Book of Psalms; the 1887 edition had added music to the texts.). The 1912 Psalter included all the psalms in 413 settings, eight doxologies, and the three Lukan canticles (Song of Mary, Song of Zechariah, and Song of Simeon).
— Bert Polman and Jack Reiffer

Composer Information

Alfred Fedak (b. 1953), is a well-known organist, composer, and Minister of Music at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Capitol Hill in Albany, New York. He graduated from Hope College in 1975 with degrees in organ performance and music history. He obtained a Master’s degree in organ performance from Montclair State University, and has also studied at Westminster Choir College, Eastman School of Music, the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, and at the first Cambridge Choral Studies Seminar at Clare College, Cambridge.
 
As a composer, he has over 200 choral and organ works in print, and has three published anthologies of his work (Selah Publishing). In 1995, he was named a Visiting Fellow in Church Music at Episcopal Seminary of the Soutwest in Austin, Texas. He is also a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists, and was awarded the AGO’s prestigious S. Lewis Elmer Award. Fedak is a Life Member of the Hymn Society, and writes for The American Organist, The Hymn, Reformed Worship, and Music and Worship. He was a member of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song that prepared Glory to God, the 2013 hymnal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
General Settings
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