God's Glory Fills the Heavens

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

It is vitally important that worshipers understand the role of God’s law among us. God gives his law to us, not so that we can earn his favor by full obedience, for even those converted to God cannot obey this law perfectly. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 44, Question and Answer 114 says, “In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience.” Instead, says Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 2, Question and Answer 3, through this law “we come to know [our] misery.” 
Yet in their new life of gratitude, God’s children “with all seriousness of purpose, do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 44, Question and Answer 114). They measure their good works of gratitude as “those which are done out of true faith, conform to God’s law, and are done for God’s glory” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 91). 
In other words, though Christ has fulfilled the law for us, “The truth and substance of these things remain for us in Jesus Christ…[and] we continue to use the witnesses drawn from the law and prophets to confirm us in the gospel and to regulate our lives with full integrity for the glory of God according to the will of God” (Belgic Confession, Article 25). Therefore, the Ten Commandments with explanation are included in the third section, “gratitude,” (Lord’s Days 34-44) of Heidelberg Catechism.

Additional Prayers

Amazing God, your glory is revealed in your creation and law,
and your love is revealed in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
You have freed us from sin and death.
You have given us wisdom and joy.
Now, by the power of your Spirit,
make our words and thoughts worthy offerings of praise.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for God’s Speaking
O God, you speak in the daily circuit of the earth, and in the regular sequence of light and darkness. You speak in the stars that shine and in the moon that bathes everything in ghostly light. You speak through your law, as regular in its ways as sun, moon, and earth. We give you thanks for the stars and moon that speak your greatness, and for the law that speaks your wisdom. Thank you, God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.      
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Tune Information

G Major or modal
Meter D


Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 19 combines the features of a creation hymn and a “Torah” (law) psalm. The author has reflected long on the “voice” of God seen and heard in the heavenly display of God’s glory (st. 1) and in the covenant statutes given to Israel. God speaks the good commandments that nourish life, gladden the heart, enlighten the eyes, and are sweet to the taste (st. 2). With the psalmist, we pray that neither hidden nor willful sins may alienate us from God and that God will accept our sacrifice of praise (st. 3).
Carl Daw prepared this text in 1989 in three stanzas to match this three part structure of Psalm 19.
The tune CREATION is a bold, triumphant tune very appropriately chosen, since it was named not only after Haydn’s oratorio of that same name, The Creation, and but from its best-known chorus “The Heavens Are Telling the Glory of God.” The text of that chorus was a paraphrase of Psalm 19:1-2. The Creation was first performed in Vienna on April 29, 1708.
Carl Daw’s first stanza about the glory of God in creation, whose “songs roll on” are beautifully matched to the rolling accompaniment that calls for part singing. Take it on a half-note pulse, employing organ and more, especially on st. 1. In contrast to the frequent practice of ending with the fullest sound, consider the most full and bright accompaniment on st. 1, a more reflective accompaniment on st. 2, and a quiet prayerful accompaniment or even unaccompanied singing on st. 3.
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Carl P. Daw, Jr. (b. Louisville, KY, 1944) is the son of a Baptist minister. He holds a PhD degree in English (University of Virginia) and taught English from 1970-1979 at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.  As an Episcopal priest (MDiv, 1981, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennesee) he served several congregations in Virginia, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.  From 1996 – 2009 he served as the Executive Director of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.  Carl Daw began to write hymns as a consultant member of the Text committee for The Hymnal 1982, and his many texts often appeared first in several small collections, including A Year of Grace: Hymns for the Church Year (1990); To Sing God’s Praise (1992), New Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1996), Gathered for Worship (2006).  Other publications include A Hymntune Psalter (2 volumes, 1988-1989) and Breaking the Word: Essays on the Liturgical Dimensions of Preaching (1994, for which he served as editor and contributed two essays.  In 2002 a collection of 25 of his hymns in Japanese was published by the United Church of Christ in Japan.  His current project is preparing a companion volume to Glory to God, the 2013 hymnal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  
— Emily Brink

Composer Information

Franz Joseph Haydn’s (b. Rohrau, Austria, 1732; d. Vienna, Austria, 1809) life was relatively uneventful, but his artistic legacy was truly astounding. He began his musical career as a choirboy in St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, spent some years in that city making a precarious living as a music teacher and composer, and then served as music director for the Esterhazy family from 1761 to 1790. Haydn became a most productive and widely respected composer of symphonies, chamber music, and piano sonatas. In his retirement years he took two extended tours to England, which resulted in his "London" symphonies and (because of G. F. Handel's influence) in oratorios. Haydn's church music includes six great Masses and a few original hymn tunes. Hymnal editors have also arranged hymn tunes from various themes in Haydn's music.
— Bert Polman

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