616

As A Deer in Want of Water

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Psalm 42 marks the beginning of Book II of the Psalms. Exiled to the northern fringes of Israelite territory, forced by taunting enemies to reside far from the house of God (see also Ps. 63 and 84), the psalmist, who dearly loves God, grieves over feeling forgotten and rejected by God. Many throughout the ages have testified to that same sense of abandonment, described here in terms of a parching thirst for God (st. 1) and recalling past seasons of worshiping God with multitudes in the temple (st. 2). But faith revives hope in God's faithful­ness (st. 3). Though overwhelmed by troubles, the exile still remembers God (st. 4) and asks that God will remember him in the face of jeering unbelievers (st. 5). The psalmist prays for vindication from enemies (st. 6) and for restoration to God's precious presence (st. 7).
 
Psalms 42 and 43 were originally one psalm. To honor the structure of the original, the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee asked members Bert Polman (PHH 37) and Jack Reiffer (b. Grand Rapids, MI, 1944) to versify both psalms so they could be sung together to GENEVAN 42. The composite text includes several lines from the 1931 versification by Dewey Westra (PHH 98) published in earlier editions of the Psalter Hymnal.
 
Jack Reiffer was chair of the text subcommittee of the revision committee. A gradu­ate of Calvin College and Seminary, he is currently pastor of a church in Washington, D.C.; he has also served congregations in Chicago and Champaign, Illinois.
 
Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

God’s children are not called to come before God’s throne with a list of accomplishments, or merits or goodness; they are called, says Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 26, to come with the humility that “…offers nothing but our need for mercy.” Such a cry for mercy comes from our “dying-away of the old self” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 88) which expresses that we are “genuinely sorry for our sin and more and more…hate and run away from it” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 89).
 
The gifts of renewal and pardon come only “through true faith” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 20) and are “gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merits” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 21). The very act of faith is to plead for his mercy.
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As A Deer in Want of Water

Confession

Everlasting God,
fountain of all life and the true home of every heart:
our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
Yet we confess that our hearts have been enslaved
by selfish passion and base desire.
We have sought after many things
and have neglected the one thing needful.
We have not loved you with our whole hearts;
help us to turn to you and find forgiveness.
Lead us home, that we may again find in you
our life and joy and peace. Amen.
[John Paarlberg in Reformed Worship 34:7,alt]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

Living God, our ever present help in trouble, we need you now.  Life for so many of us is not going as well as we had hoped.  And we do not feel your presence.  We long for you, O God.  Our hearts thirst for you.  Send out your light and your truth.  Let them lead us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

O God, our Help in past, present, and future days,
you know our deepest thoughts and needs before we can even express them.
When our world turns upside down, help us to remember happier days—
not as something lost, but as a foretaste of good things yet to come.
We pray in the name of the coming King. Amen.

God, you are light and truth.
When our world seems dark and our days filled with lies,
fill our hearts with your joy and our lips with songs of praise to you,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—now and forever. Amen.
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As A Deer in Want of Water

Tune Information

Name
FREU DICH SEHR (GENEVAN 42)
Key
F Major or modal
Meter
8.7.8.7.7.7.8.8
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As A Deer in Want of Water

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 42 marks the beginning of Book II of the Psalms. Exiled to the northern fringes of Israelite territory and forced by taunting enemies to reside far from the house of God (see also Psalms 63 and 84), the psalmist, who dearly loves God, grieves over feeling forgotten and rejected by God. Many throughout the ages have testified to that same sense of abandonment, described here in terms of a parching thirst for God (st. 1) and recalling past seasons of worshiping God with multitudes in the temple (st. 2). But faith revives hope in God's faithfulness (refrain). Though overwhelmed by troubles, the exile still remembers God (st. 3) and asks that God will remember him in the face of jeering unbelievers (st. 4). The psalmist prays for vindication from enemies (st. 5) and for restoration to God's precious presence (st. 6).
 
Psalms 42 and 43 were originally one psalm. To honor the structure of the original, Psalter Hymnal 1987 Revision Committee members Bert Polman and Jack Reiffer versified both psalms so they could be sung together to GENEVAN 42. The composite text includes several lines from the 1931 versification by Dewey Westra published in earlier editions of the Psalter Hymnal.
 
Louis Bourgeois composed or adapted GENEVAN 42 for the 1551 Genevan Psalter. This tune, in bar form (AAB) with lilting rhythms fluctuating between groups of three and two, is one of the best known and best loved in the Genevan Psalter. It is often called FREU DICH SEHR after a German funeral hymn for which it became a setting in Rhamba's Harmoniae sacrae (1613). Johann S. Bach used the melody in seven different cantatas. Adapted to long meter double, GENEVAN 42 was also published in English and Scottish psalters.
 
Johann Crüger published his harmonization of the tune in 1658 as part of his complete setting of the Genevan Psalter in simple four-part chorale style with instrumental accompaniment. 
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Bert Frederick Polman (b. Rozenburg, Zuid Holland, the Netherlands, 1945; d. Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 1, 2013) was chair of the Music Department at Calvin College and senior research fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Dr. Bert studied at Dordt College (BA 1968), the University of Minnesota (MA 1969, PhD in musicology 1981), and the Institute for Christian Studies. Dr. Bert was a longtime is professor of music at Redeemer College in Ancaster, Ontario, and organist at Bethel Christian Reformed Church, Waterdown, Ontario. His teaching covered a wide range of courses in music theory, music history, music literature, and worship, and Canadian Native studies. His research specialty was Christian hymnody. He was also an organist, a frequent workshop leader at music and worship conferences, and contributor to journals such as The Hymn and Reformed Worship. Dr. Bert was co-editor of the Psalter Hymnal Handbook (1989), and served on the committees that prepared Songs for Life (1994) and Sing! A New Creation (2001), both published by CRC Publications.
— Bert Polman

Jack Reiffer (b. 1944) was the chair of the text subcommittee of the 1987 Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he was an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church, serving several years as Registrar at Calvin Theological Seminary, and as pastor at Christian Reformed churches in Chicago, Champaign, Illinois, and Washington DC; he is currently Parish Administrator for Luther Place Memorial Church in the center of Washington DC. 
— Emily Brink

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.” 

Louis Bourgeois (b. Paris, France, c. 1510; d. Paris, 1561), in both his early and later years, wrote French songs to entertain the rich, but in the history of church music he is known especially for his contribution to the Genevan Psalter. Apparently moving to Geneva in 1541, the same year John Calvin returned to Geneva from Strasbourg, Bourgeois served as cantor and master of the choristers at both St. Pierre and St. Gervais, which is to say he was music director there under the pastoral leadership of Calvin. Bourgeois used the choristers to teach the new psalm tunes to the congregation.
 
The extent of Bourgeois's involvement in the Genevan Psalter is a matter of scholar­ly debate. Calvin had published several partial psalters, including one in Strasbourg in 1539 and another in Geneva in 1542, with melodies by unknown composers. In 1551 another French psalter appeared in Geneva, Eighty-three Psalms of David, with texts by Marot and de Beze, and with most of the melodies by Bourgeois, who supplied thirty­ four original tunes and thirty-six revisions of older tunes. This edition was republished repeatedly, and later Bourgeois's tunes were incorporated into the complete Genevan Psalter (1562). However, his revision of some older tunes was not uniformly appreciat­ed by those who were familiar with the original versions; he was actually imprisoned overnight for some of his musical arrangements but freed after Calvin's intervention. In addition to his contribution to the 1551 Psalter, Bourgeois produced a four-part harmonization of fifty psalms, published in Lyons (1547, enlarged 1554), and wrote a textbook on singing and sight-reading, La Droit Chemin de Musique (1550). He left Geneva in 1552 and lived in Lyons and Paris for the remainder of his life.
— Bert Polman

Johann Crüger (b. Grossbriesen, near Guben, Prussia, Germany, 1598; d. Berlin, Germany, 1662) published his harmonization of the tune in 1658 as part of his com­plete setting of the Genevan Psalter in simple four-part chorale style with instrumental accompaniment.
 
Crüger attended the Jesuit College at Olmutz and the Poets' School in Regensburg, and later studied theology at the University of Wittenberg. He moved to Berlin in 1615, where he published music for the rest of his life. In 1622 he became the Lutheran cantor at the St. Nicholas Church and a teacher for the Gray Cloister. He wrote music instruction manuals, the best known of which is Synopsis musica (1630), and tirelessly promoted congregational singing. With his tunes he often included elaborate accom­paniment for various instruments. Crüger's hymn collection, Neues vollkomliches Gesangbuch (1640), was one of the first hymnals to include figured bass accompaniment (musical shorthand) with the chorale melody rather than full harmonization written out. It included eighteen of Crüger's tunes. His next publication, Praxis Pietatis Melica (1644), is considered one of the most important collections of German hymnody in the seventeenth century. It was reprinted forty-four times in the following hundred years. Another of his publications, Geistliche Kirchen Melodien (1649), is a collection arranged for four voices, two descanting instruments, and keyboard and bass accompaniment. Crüger also published a complete psalter, Psalmodia sacra (1657), which included the Lobwasser translation set to all the Genevan tunes.
— Bert Polman
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