90. Lord, You Have Been Our Dwelling Place

Text Information
First Line: Lord, you have been our dwelling place
Title: Lord, You Have Been Our Dwelling Place
Meter: 88 88 88
Scripture: Psalm 90
Topic: Anniversaries; Brevity & Frailty of Life; Funerals2 more...
Source: Psalter, 1912; Psalter Hymnal, 1987, rev.
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Name: STELLA
Harmonizer: Gerald H. Knight (1950)
Meter: 88 88 88
Key: D Major
Source: Easy Hymns, 1851


Text Information:

An appeal for God's wisdom and favor upon the sad state of humankind as sinners and mortals.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-6
st. 3 = vv. 7-9
st. 4 = vv. 10-11
st. 5 = vv. 12-15
st. 6 = vv. 16-17

Psalm 90 opens Book IV of the Psalms. No other psalm expresses so poignantly our melancholy state as sinful mortals before the face of a holy and eternal God. Yet the psalmist expresses no defiance. Honesty acknowledges guilt, and faith knows God's unfailing love. To that love we can appeal for mercies that bring joy and for blessings that make our work fruitful.

The psalm opens by addressing the everlasting God as humanity's security and rest through all generations (st. 1) and quickly moves to contrast God's eternity with the shortness of the human lifespan (st. 2). God knows all our sins, and we suffer God's displeasure because of them (st. 3). We live perhaps seventy or eighty years; yet even so long a life brings no relief from sorrow and no escape from death (st. 4). The psalmist asks God to grant wisdom to us sinners and to have pity and mercy on us so that we may yet know joy (st. 5). He continues with a request that God reveal his glory to us and our children by showing favor to us and blessing our efforts in the LORD's service (st. 6).

The versification is a 1985 revision by Helen Otte (PHH 17) of the texts found at 245 and 246 of the 1912 Psalter. Another setting of Psalm 90 is at 170.

Liturgical Use:
Traditionally for Old/New Year services; funerals; many other occasions in Christian worship.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

First published in Henri Frederick Hemy's Easy Hymn Tunes for Catholic Schools (1851), STELLA was a folk tune from northern England that Hemy heard sung by children in Stella, a village near Newcastle-upon-Tyme. In modified bar form (AA'B), the tune has an interesting rhythmic structure. Antiphonal performance and part singing help in singing the entire psalm.

Gerald Hocken Knight (b. Par, Cornwall, England, 1908; d. London, England, 1979) composed the harmonization in 1950 for Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised (1950). Knight studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge, England, and at the Royal College of Music in London. He was organist at Truro Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral (1937-1952) as well as director of the Royal College of Music (1952-1972). A music editor of the 1950 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern, he also served on the committees that compiled its two supplements, 100 Hymns for Today (1969) and More Hymns for Today (1980).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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