46. God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength

1 God is our refuge and our strength,
our ever-present aid,
and therefore, though the earth be moved,
we will not be afraid
though hills into the seas be cast,
though foaming waters roar,
though all the mighty billows shake
the mountains on the shore.

2 A river flows whose streams make glad
the city of our God,
the holy place wherein the LORD
Most High has his abode.
Since God is in the midst of her,
unmoved her walls shall stand;
for God will hasten to her aid
when trouble is at hand.

3 The nations rage, the kingdoms move,
but when his voice is heard,
earth melts with trembling fear before
the thunder of his word.
The LORD of hosts is on our side,
our safety to secure;
the God of Jacob is for us
a refuge strong and sure.

4 O come and see what wondrous works
the hand of God has done;
come, see what desolation great
he brings beneath the sun.
In every corner of the earth
he causes wars to cease;
the weapons of the strong destroyed,
he makes abiding peace.

5 "Be still and know that I am God,
the LORD whom all must claim;
and every nation of the earth
shall magnify my name."
The LORD of hosts is on our side,
our safety to secure;
the God of Jacob is for us
a refuge strong and sure.

Text Information
First Line: God is our refuge and our strength
Title: God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength
Meter: CMD
Scripture: Psalm 46
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Jacob; Comfort & Encouragement; New Year - Old Year (2 more...)
Source: Scottish Psalter, 1650; alt.
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: NOEL
Adapter: Arthur S. Sullivan (1874)
Meter: CMD
Key: F Major
Source: English


Text Information:

A celebration of the absolute security of the city of God.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-3
st. 2 = vv. 4-5
st. 3 = vv. 6-7
st. 4 = vv. 8-9
st. 5 = vv. 10-11

This song in celebration of Zion's security (see also 48 and 76) has heartened God's people throughout the ages. Luther echoed it in "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (469). Traditionally ascribed to (or assigned to) the "sons of Korah," the psalm was no doubt composed for liturgical use at the temple. As a song concerning the royal city of the kingdom of God on earth, it expresses Israel's hope in the certain triumph of God's kingdom. The psalm's imagery of a river that "make[s] glad the city of God" (v. 4) serves as a metaphor for the unfailing flow of God's sustaining and refreshing blessings, which make the city of God like the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2: 10).

In this psalm we confess fearless trust in God, "our refuge" (st. 1), and extol God's refreshing river and protective presence (st. 2). God stills the rage of the nations, inspiring us with faith's strong confidence (st. 3). The LORD's mighty victories assure us of the people's peace (st. 4), and God's reassuring word "Be still, and know. . ." inspires us again with the confidence of faith. (st. 5). The versification is based on the 1650 Scottish psalter version, which was altered in both the 1871 and 1912 American psalters and now again in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal. Hymns based on Psalm 46 are at 468, 469, and 610.

Liturgical Use:
Suitable for many occasions in Christian worship, especially for times of war or persecution, confusion and loss, whenever the conflict between church and world sharpens. Also for Old or New Year services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

The tune NOEL (also used at 185) is also known as EARDISLEY or GERARD. Arthur Seymour Sullivan (b Lambeth, London. England. 1842; d. Westminster, London, 1900) adapted this traditional English melody (probably one of the variants of the folk song "Dives and Lazarus"), added phrases of his own to recast the melody in common meter double, and published it first in his Church Hymns with Tunes (1874). In that collection Sullivan set this tune to the Christmas carol "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," which explains one of the tune names.

Though NOEL has frequent changes of harmony, do not sing it too slowly; keep the rhythmic energy moving. Antiphonal performance may highlight the refrain (second half of st. 3 and 5) in this psalm: all sing stanzas 1, 3, and 5; alternate groups sing stanzas 2 and 4. The folk origin of the tune suggests unison singing to most, but Sullivan's harmony will attract some choristers. Either way, this is lively music.

Sullivan was born of an Italian mother and an Irish father who was an army bandmaster and a professor of music. Sullivan entered the Chapel Royal as a chorister in 1854. He was elected as the first Mendelssohn scholar in 1856, when he began his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He also studied at the Leipzig Conservatory (1858-1861) and in 1866 was appointed professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music.

Early in his career Sullivan composed oratorios and music for some Shakespeare plays. However, he is best known for writing the music for lyrics by William S. Gilbert, which produced popular operettas such as H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), The Mikado (1884), and Yeomen of the Guard (1888). These operettas satirized the court and everyday life in Victorian times.

Although he composed some anthems, in the area of church music Sullivan is best remembered for his hymn tunes, written between 1867 and 1874 and published in The Hymnary (1872) and Church Hymns (1874), both of which he edited. He contributed hymns to A Hymnal Chiefly from The Book of Praise (1867) and to the Presbyterian collection Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867). A complete collection of his hymns and arrangements was published posthumously as Hymn Tunes by Arthur Sullivan (1902). Sullivan steadfastly refused to grant permission to those who wished to make hymn tunes from the popular melodies in his operettas.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


Media
MIDI file: MIDI
MIDI file: MIDI Preview(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.




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