759

Your Word Sheds Light upon My Path

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song expresses our confidence in the truth and power of the word, as taught in Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 32 and Belgic Confession, 7: These scriptures are sufficient for they contain the will of God completely and “everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it.”

Additional Prayers

Holy God,
your ways are just and your commandments are true.
Help us to understand your law, and when understanding fails
inspire us to follow you in joyful obedience, so that we may faithfully serve you,
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tune Information

Name
FEDERAL STREET
Key
E♭ Major
Meter
8.8.8.8

Hymn Story/Background

Psalm 119 is an acrostic psalm; there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, with 22 corresponding eight-verse sections, each a meditation on the law of God.  The 1912 Psalter provided a separate musical setting for each of those 22 sections; “Your Word Sheds Light upon My Path,” as well as “O Let My Supplicating Cry” (at 760) are given the same musical setting (also see #720 and #721).
 
Henry Kemble Oliver composed FEDERAL STREET in 1832, possibly as an imitation of earlier psalm tunes in long meter. He took it to a music class taught by Lowell Mason (who may have contributed to the harmony); Mason published it in his Boston Academy Collection of Church Music (1836).The tune name refers to the street in Boston where Oliver's boyhood church stood, all to the street in Salem where Oliver's wife, Sally, was “reared, wooed, won, and married.”
 
While the text in this song often consists of two long lines, this tune unfortunately insists on four phrases. Trained choirs can easily couple the short phrases into the longer units the text calls for, but congregations may need persistent help from the organist or choir to complete the longer lines. 
— 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

Henry Kemble Oliver (b. Beverly, MA, 1800; d. Salem, MA, 1885) was educated at Harvard and Dartmouth. He taught in the public schools of Salem (1818-1842) and was superintendent of the Atlantic Cotton Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts (1848-1858). His civic service included being mayor of Lawrence (1859­1861) and Salem (1877-1880), state treasurer (1861-1865), and organizer of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics and Labor (1867-1873). Oliver was organist at several churches, including Park Street Congregational Church in Boston, North Church in Salem, and the Unitarian Church in Lawrence. A founder of the Mozart Association and several choral societies in Salem, he published his hymn tunes in Hymn and Psalm Tunes (1860) and Original Hymn Tunes (1875).
— Bert Polman
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