87. Our Gracious God

1 Our gracious God has laid his firm foundations
on Zion's mount, the courts of his delight.
Her gates of splendor, bathed in heavenly light,
he loves far more than Jacob's habitations.

2 What glorious things, O city of our great God,
are spoken in melodious tones of you:
"Lo, Egypt, even Babel, I will view
in hallowed chorus singing, 'Hallelujah.'

3 "The Cushite, the Philistine, and the Tyrian
will soon, O Zion, throng your holy gate."
With joyful hearts we hear God's voice relate,
"This one was born within the walls of Zion."

4 God will himself confirm them with his blessing,
and on the roll of nations he will count
all these as born on Zion's holy mount,
in many tongues one God, one faith confessing.

5 Then will God's name with holy adoration
and joyful tones be praised by Israel's throng.
Both harp and voice will blend in swelling song:
"In Zion are the founts of my salvation."

Text Information
First Line: Our gracious God has laid his firm foundations
Title: Our Gracious God
Versifier: William Kuipers (1931, alt.)
Meter: 11 10 10 11
Scripture: Psalm 87
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Babylon/Babel; Biblical Names & Places: Egypt; Biblical Names & Places: Jacob3 more...
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: GENEVAN 87
Harmonizer: Jacobus J. Kloppers (1985)
Meter: 11 10 10 11
Key: F Major
Source: Genevan Psalter, 1562
Copyright: Harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications


Text Information:

A celebration of the glory of Zion as the city of God, whose citizens, gathered from all nations, enjoy God's sure protection and unfailing blessings.

Scripture References:
st. l =vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-4a
st. 3 = v. 4b
st. 4 = vv. 5-6
st. 5 = v. 7

This song about Zion has historically been understood as anticipating the gathering of the nations into the people of God (in harmony with many of the prophetic books from Isaiah to Zechariah). As the "city of God," Zion represented the earthly royal city of God's emerging kingdom (see also 46, 48, 76, 84, 122,125, and 137)–citizenship in Zion signified all the benefits of God's blessing and protection. Most likely this psalm was composed for use in the liturgy of an annual religious festival drawing the pious in great throngs to Jerusalem. The psalmist notes God's special love for Zion (st. 1) and extols its glory as the city that draws the nations (st. 2-3). God will recognize as citizens of Zion all who come to confess their faith in the LORD (st. 4), and their response will be praise and adoration (st. 5).

William Kuipers (b. Rochester, NY, 1883; d. Passaic, NJ, 1933) versified this psalm in 1931 for the 1934 Psalter Hymnal; it was reprinted in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal with only a few changes. Another setting of Psalm 87 is at 168.

A graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kuipers was ordained in the Christian Reformed Church. From 1914 to 1919 he served the Second Christian Reformed Church of Fremont, Michigan, a congregation organized to be an English-speaking church. Later he served Christian Reformed churches in Oakland, Michigan (1919-1923); Dennis Avenue, Grand Rapids (1923-1927); and Summer Street, Passaic, New Jersey (1927-1933). Kuipers wrote a number of poems, hymns, and psalm versifications.

Liturgical Use:
Pentecost, mission contexts; emphasis on the worldwide kingdom of the Lord and on the new Jerusalem.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

GENEVAN 87 was first published in the 1562 edition of the Genevan Psalter; Jacobus J.K. Kloppers (b. Krugersdorp, Transvaal, South Africa, 1937) wrote the harmonization in 1985. In the Hypo-Mixolydian mode, this tune consists off our lines, each of which have their own rhythmic and melodic identity. A stately pace is appropriate.

Now a Canadian citizen, Kloppers has published works in Afrikaans, German, and English, and given organ recitals on three continents. Educated at Potchefstroom University, South Africa, and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, he also studied organ with Helmut Walcha. Kloppers was organist and choir director at several Reformed churches in South Africa and at the Evangelisch Reformierte Kirche in Frankfurt. He taught in South Africa until 1976, after which he moved to Canada. Since 1976 he has been organist at St. John's Anglican Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and since 1979, professor of music at The King's College, also in Edmonton. Kloppers has published several works on J. S. Bach, including The Interpretation and Rendering of the Organ Works of J. S. Bach (1966), and was coeditor of Liturgical Organ Music (1973, 1975). His compositions include psalm and hymn arrangements for choir and organ and an organ concerto. He has performed many organ recitals, including several performances for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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