Great Is the LORD Our God

Text Information

First Line: Great is the Lord our God, And greatly to be praised
Title: Great Is the LORD Our God
Meter: 6.6.8.6 D
Source: Psalter Hymnal, 1987; (st. 1-2) Psalter, 1887, rev. 1987; (st. 3-5)
Language: English
Publication Date: 1982
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications

Notes

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

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-8
st. 3 = vv. 9-10
st. 4 = vv. 11-13a
st. 5 = vv. 13-14

Traditionally associated with the Levitical "Sons of Korah," this celebration song matches the exuberant faith of Psalm 46 (see also 76, 84, 87, 122, 125, and 137). In the post-exilic liturgy of the temple, this psalm was sung at the time of the morning sacrifice on the second day of the week. Because the LORD
Almighty is present in Zion, that hill's rather modest height is likened to Mount Zaphon (North Mountain), the Mount Olympus where the Canaanite gods supposedly sat in counsel. Jerusalem, unlike the imperial capitals of Egypt and Mesopotamia, was no grand city. But her walls and citadels are impregnable because "the Great King" lives there. And in Jerusalem's temple "we meditate on [God's] unfailing love" (v. 9).

In this psalm we proclaim the greatness of the LORD and the glory of his city (st. 1), extol God's triumphs over Zion's enemies and his people's sense of security (st. 2), and praise the LORD's love, grace, and righteousness (st. 3). Zion rejoices in its King and in the ramparts God maintains (st. 4). The psalmist exhorts the people to let succeeding generations know Zion will not fail-for God, the unfailing guide, is present there [by his Word and Spirit] (st. 5).

Emily R. Brink (PHH 158) versified stanza 1, and Bert Witvoet (PHH 4) versified stanza 2; stanzas 3 through 5 (with some alterations) are from The Book of Psalms (1871), a text-only psalter that was later published with music in 1887.

Liturgical Use:
Beginning of worship; various points in festive services (including church anniversaries), since the New Testament temple is the whole people of God.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune

DIADEMATA (Elvey)

Composed for Bridges's text by George J. Elvey (PHH 48), DIADEMATA was first published in the 1868 Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern. Since that publication, the tune has retained its association with this text. The name DIADEMATA is derived from the Greek word for "crowns." The tune is lively an…

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TERRA BEATA

TERRA BEATA was originally a traditional English folk tune, a variant of which, entitled RUSPER, appeared in The English Hymnal in 1906. Franklin L. Sheppard (b. Philadelphia, PA, 1852; d. Germantown, PA, 1930) arranged the tune for Babcock's text and published it in the Presbyterian church school h…

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #48

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