O Mighty Rulers, Can You Claim

O mighty rulers, can you claim

Versifier: Bertus Frederick Polman (1983)
Published in 1 hymnal

Audio files: MIDI

Versifier: Bertus Frederick Polman

Bert Polman served as chair of the Music Department at Calvin College and senior research fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Dr. Bert studied at Dordt College (BA 1968), the University of Minnesota (MA 1969, PhD in musicology 1981), and the Institute for Christian Studies. Dr. Bert was a longtime professor of music at Redeemer College in Ancaster, Ontario, and organist at Bethel Christian Reformed Church, Waterdown, Ontario. His teaching covers a wide range of courses in music theory, music history, music literature, and worship, and Canadian Native studies. His research specialty is Christian hymnody. He is also an organist, a frequent workshop leader at music and worship conferences, and contributor to journals such as… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: O mighty rulers, can you claim
Title: O Mighty Rulers, Can You Claim
Versifier: Bertus Frederick Polman (1983)
Meter: D
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications


A denunciation of wicked rulers and an appeal to God to destroy their power to work harm.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-9
st. 3 = vv. 10-11

The psalmist's reproof of wicked rulers expresses a concern frequently addressed in the Old Testament. Nothing corrupts the social order more pervasively or causes more human pain than the perversion of justice by the powerful, especially those who are supposed to uphold it. The psalmist denounces wicked rulers for corrupting justice (st. 1); appeals to God to destroy their power and bring their kind to an end (st. 2); and, in a final word, reassures the righteous that "there is a God who judges" (st. 3; see 82 for a similar theme). The early church applied Psalm 58 to Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:57-68). Bert Polman (PHH 37) versified this psalm in 1983 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
Many situations in which the Christian community needs to address government and the frequent miscarriages of justice perpetrated or condoned by government officials.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



Annabeth McClelland Gay (b. Ottawa, IL, 1925) composed SHEPHERDS' PIPES in 1952, and her husband matched it with a hymn text to send as Christmas greetings. She wrote, "When I played it for him, he said, 'I wonder if Palestinian shepherds played on pipes, because that's what this tune reminds me of.…

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