3. O LORD, My Enemies

Text Information
First Line: O LORD, my enemies
Title: O LORD, My Enemies
Versifier: Paul Shuart (1982)
Meter: 667 667 D
Scripture: Psalm 3
Topic: Enemies & Persecution; Laments; War & Revolution
Language: English
Copyright: Text and harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Name: GENEVAN 3
Harmonizer: Howard Slenk
Composer: Louis Bourgeois
Meter: 667 667 D
Key: D Major


Text Information:

A prayer for deliverance from enemies who attack in brazen assurance that God will not lift a hand against them.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-3
st. 2 = vv. 4-6
st. 3 = vv. 7-8

Even while threatened by many powerful enemies, the LORD's servant confesses so much confidence in the LORD's protection (st. 1) that peaceful rest and freedom from fear are possible (st. 2). The psalmist petitions God for deliverance and closes with a testimony to God's readiness and power to save, coupled with a prayer for God's blessing on the faithful (st. 3).

Paul Shuart (b. Grand Rapids, MI, 1957) versified the text in 1982 for the Psalter Hymnal. Educated at both Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa, Shuart is a composer and writer of hymns, including the fiftieth anniversary hymn text of the Reformed Bible College in Grand Rapids.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

GENEVAN 3 is the first of some fourteen tunes in the Psalter Hymnal credited to Louis Bourgeois (b. Paris, France, c. 1510; d. Paris, 1561), who was the primary musical editor of the Genevan Psalter. In both his early and later years Bourgeois 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.

GENEVAN 3 was first published in the 1551 edition of the Genevan Psalter to Clement Marot's text for Psalm 3, "0 Seigneur que de gens," which is sometimes used as a tune name. In the Anglo-Genevan Psalter of 1561 the tune became the setting for Psalm 122 as well and is therefore also known as OLD 122ND. In 1899 Robert Bridges chose this tune for his translation of "When Morning Gilds the Sky" (438); that combination is still found in some hymnals. In Ionian mode (major), this Genevan tune has no repetitions in its melodic structure. However, its regular rhythmic pattern helps to make it accessible; each group of three short phrases forms longer units, thereby making four long lines in the melody.

Howard J. Slenk (b. Holland, MI, 1931) provided the harmonization. Slenk received his undergraduate education from Calvin College and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in Columbus; his dissertation was entitled The Huguenot Psalter in the Low Countries. He taught at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, and at Calvin College from 1967 until retiring in 1995. From 1970 to 1993 Slenk served as organist and director of music at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. His published works include A Well-Appointed Church Music (1960) and various articles on Genevan psalmody, including the article on page 28.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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