Song of Zechariah

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: Praised be the God of Israel
Title: Song of Zechariah
Versifier: Bertus Frederick Polman (1986)
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Luke 1:68-75
st. 2 = Luke 1:76-79

The Song of Zechariah is the second "great" canticle recorded by Luke (1:68-79), well-known as the Benedictus, after its incipit in the Latin Vulgate. Zechariah uttered his song as prophecy and praise upon the naming of his son, John the Baptist. Stanza 1 praises God for bringing deliverance from evil and being true to his word spoken by earlier prophets; stanza 2 addresses John, the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would "guide our feet in ways of peace."

Zechariah's reference to "the rising sun" (Luke 1:78) caused the early church to use this canticle in morning services, initially at Lauds, the hour of early morning praise. The song is still used for morning prayer by churches with a tradition of daily prayer services (see PHH 247 for more information on this tradition). Bert Polman (PHH 37) versified Zechariah's song in 1986 specifically for the tune AN WASSERFLÜSSEN BABYLON in an attempt to include a concise paraphrase of this long canticle in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
Advent; morning worship services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



The tune AN WASSERFLÜSSEN BABYLON was composed by Wolfgang Dachstein (b. Gffenburg an der Kinzig, Germany, 1487; d. Strasbourg, Germany, 1553) and published in the Strassburger Kirchenampt (1525), edited by Dachstein and his friend Matthaus Greiter. In that collection it was the setting for Dachste…

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #213


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