How Blest Are They Whose Trespass

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

When we receive God’s pardon, we find ourselves at peace with him and at rest again. When the benefits of Christ are made ours, “They are more than enough to absolve us of our sins” and we need no longer look “for anything apart from him” (Belgic Confession, Article 22). We have “freedom from sin’s dominion” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 25) and we understand that we are “set free from all [our] sins and misery…” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 2). We are “righteous before God and heir to everlasting life” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 23, Question and Answer 59).

Additional Prayers

God of grace,
when we keep silence in guilt or suffering, your saving love can free our hearts to sing.
Help us each day to confess our sin, receive your grace,
forgive one another, and live in peace.
We pray in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for God’s Forgiveness
O God, hater of sin but lover of sinners, we give you thanks for your redeeming grace. We have ignored and grieved you, but you have freely forgiven us. Beyond all reasoning, beyond all deserving, beyond all human imagining, you have forgiven us through the atoning work of Jesus Christ your Son, in whom we pray. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Tune Information

F Major or modal
Meter D

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 32 is traditionally considered a penitential psalm (along with Psalms 6, 38, 51,102, 130, and 143). In the sequence of spiritual experience it follows the situation depicted in Psalm 51, the great plea for forgiveness. That psalm's traditional association with David's sin against Uriah, together with Psalm 32's reference to delayed confession, has suggested a historical link between the two. The psalm's thematic movement is noteworthy and is well represented in the versification, which is slightly altered from that of the 1912 Psalter.
The psalm begins with a testimony to the blessedness of those forgiven by God (st. 1). Retracing the spiritual movement from stubbornly denying sin to experiencing the joy of God's forgiveness (st. 2), the psalm exhorts all the godly to faithfully rely on God and reaffirms the LORD as refuge and hiding place (st. 3). Next God speaks, instructing the saints in godly obedience (st. 4). The psalm then contrasts the lot of the wicked with that of those who trust in God, and it closes with a call to the righteous to rejoice in God for his unfailing mercies (st. 5).
RUTHERFORD was composed by Chrétien Urhan. Urhan was an accomplished violin and viola player at an early age. After hearing him play his instrument in 1805, the Empress Josephine took him to Paris to study composition and strings from the best teachers. Urhan revived the importance of the viola d'amore by giving virtuoso performances on this instrument with Pierre Baillot's quartet.
RUTHERFORD originally was published in Chants Chrétien (1834). The tune became associated with Anne Ross Cousin's hymn text "The Sands of Time Are Sinking." Cousin based her hymn on writings from the Last Words of Samuel Rutherford (1857); Rutherford was a seventeenth-century Scottish Covenant preacher. The tune was later arranged by Edward Francis Rimbault and published in its present form in Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867).
RUTHERFORD consists of four long lines, each of which has its own melodic and rhythmic patterns. Sing this music with two beats per bar to get the sense of the longer textual and musical lines. Try singing in harmony, unaccompanied on one of the inner stanzas.
— 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

A composer of chamber music and works for piano, Chrétien Urhan (b. Aix-la-Chappelle, France, 1790; d. Belleville, near Paris, France, 1845) also served as organist of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris. In 1816 he joined the Paris Opera orchestra and became its leader in 1831. A mystic and devout Catholic, Urhan regarded his contribution to church music as the most important part of his career. Although he played in opera orchestras for some thirty years, he is reputed never to have looked at the opera itself from the orchestra pit because of his religious scruples.
— Bert Polman

Edward Francis Rimbault (b. Soho, London, England, 1816; d. Soho, London, 1876) first studied with his father, organist of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London, and later was a student of both Samuel Wesley and William Crotch. Various London churches employed him as organist, including St. Peter's on Vere Street, St. John's Wood Presbyterian Church, the Swiss Church in Soho, and St. Giles-in-the-Fields. Active in the Motet Society and the Handel Society, Rimbault was also one of the founders of the Musical Antiquarian Society. He edited much music, including editions of Tallis's Cathedral Service and Order of Daily Service, Merbecke' s Book of Common Prayer Noted, and Este's The Whole Book of Psalms.
— Bert Polman