283

O God of Love, Forever Blest

Full Text

1 O God of love, forever blest,
pity my suffering state.
When will you set my soul at rest
from lips that love deceit?

Refrain:
Too long my soul (has made its home)
with those who lift the sword.
I am for peace; (but when I speak),
they make for war.

2 I cried in trouble to the Lord,
and he has answered me.
From lying lips and crafty tongue,
O Lord, my soul set free. [Refrain]

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Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Any song or testimony about the cries that comes from our nations and cities must be met with confessional statements about the mission of the church as listed here.

 

Our World Belongs to God, paragraphs 41-43 are explicit and pointed about the mission of the church: “In a world estranged from God, where happiness and peace are offered in many names and millions face confusing choices, we witness—with respect for followers of other ways—to the only one in whose name salvation is found: Jesus Christ.”

 

Later, Our World Belongs to God, paragraphs 52-54 point to the task of the church in seeking public justice and functioning as a peacemaker: “We call on our governments to work for peace and to restore just relationships. We deplore the spread of weapons in our world and on our streets with the risks they bring and the horrors they threaten…”

 

The Belhar Confession, section 3 calls the church to be a peacemaker, and section 4 calls the church “to bring about justice and true peace.”

 

Our Song of Hope, stanza 10 calls the church to seek “the welfare of the people” and to work “against inhuman oppression of humanity.”

283

O God of Love, Forever Blest

Additional Prayers

Optional concluding prayer
God of peace, in the middle of a world filled with warfare and violence, we pray for the coming
of the Prince of Peace. We cling to your promise that you will break the bow and shatter the
spear. We long to live up to our calling as instruments of peace. Through our prayers and
through our actions, help us to plant seeds of peace. Then, by your Spirit, turn them into
blossoms of hope, the fruit of righteousness. Amen.
— Lift Up Your Hearts (http://www.liftupyourheartshymnal.org)

God, our deliverer,
when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, surrounded by deceit and hostility,
shield us from harm and lead us to the pathway of your peace,
through Christ, our Prince of Peace. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)
283

O God of Love, Forever Blest

Tune Information

Name
SHALOM 120
Key
F Major
Meter
8.6.8.6 refrain 8.8.8.4

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

The lead and echo arrangement of the refrain is an option and can be sung by any two groups. When the echo is not used, sing the entire text, with the exception of the repeated “who lift.”
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)
283

O God of Love, Forever Blest

Hymn Story/Background

When asked about this hymn, Bruce Benedict writes:
 
In 2010, at Christ the King Presbyterian (Raleigh, NC), I was working through a Worship Renewal Grant (from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship) on the Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120-134). One of our goals for the grant was to write new music for each psalm. Working with Isaac Watts’s texts for Psalm 120, I composed this tune. It is difficult to find popular versions of Psalm 120 and this song has seemed to fit a need and niche. It is simple, folky, and a good fit for the biblical text.
— Bruce Benedict

Author Information

Isaac Watts (b. Southampton, England, 1674; d. London, England, 1748) was a precocious student and voracious reader. As a youth he studied Latin, Greek, French, and Hebrew. He declined an offer to study at Oxford and chose instead to attend an independent academy in Stoke Newington (1690-1694). From 1696 to 1701 Watts was tutor for the family of Sir John Hartopp, and in 1702 he became the pastor of Mark Lane Independent Chapel in London. However, ill health, which he had suffered for some years, took a serious turn in 1712. After that time he served the Mark Lane Chapel only on a part-time basis and moved in to the estate of Sir Thomas Abney to became the family chaplain, a position he held for the rest of his life. During the following thirty-six years Watts was a prolific author–writing books about theology, philosophy (including an influential textbook, Logic), and education, as well as conducting a voluminous correspondence.
 
Today, Watts is best remembered for his psalm paraphrases and hymns. Many of his contemporaries were exclusive psalm singers. After complaining about the poor quality of many of the psalm paraphrases, the teenager Watts was challenged by his father, "Give us something better!" So he began to write new psalm versifications in which he deliberately chose not to follow closely the King James text but instead to interpret the Old Testament psalms through contemporary British Christian and New Testament eyes.
 
The next step was to write hymns rather than Scripture paraphrases. What he called "hymns of human composure" established him as the creator of the modern English hymn; he is known as the "father of English hymnody." Altogether, Watts wrote more than six hundred psalm and hymn texts, which were published in his Horae Lyricae (1706), Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707), Divine Songs . . . for the Use of Children (1715), The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1719), and Sermons and Hymns (1721-1727). Most of Watts' texts use the traditional British ballad meters (Short Meter, Common Meter, and Long Meter) and state their theme in often memorable first lines. His work became immensely popular in the English-speaking world, including the United States, where, following the American Revolution, Watts' texts were edited by Timothy Dwight in 1801 to remove their British connotations. Several of his versifications and hymns are still found in most hymnals; especially loved are the paraphrase of Psalm 90, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" (405), and the hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (175).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Bruce Benedict is currently a ThD Student at Duke Divinity. Previously he was the Worship and Community Life Director at Christ the King Presbyterian in Raleigh, NC. From 2007-2009 he and his wife lived in London, England and helped plant Camden Town Church with the International Presbyterian Church (IPC). From 2003-2007 he was the Worship-Arts Director at Redeemer Presbyterian in Indianapolis, IN. He graduated with an M.Div from Reformed Theological Seminary in 2003. He is a graduate of James Madison University and a Harrisonburg ‘townee. His wife PJ is a local performance/theatre artist and mother to their current foster child.
— Cardiphonia (http://cardiphonia.org/about/)

Greg Scheer (b. 1966) has composed hundreds of pieces, songs and arrangements. His music is published by Augsburg Fortress, GIA, Abingdon Press, Worship Today, Faith Alive and in numerous hymnals. He has won commissions from the Iowa Choral Directors Association, Iowa Composers Forum, Linn-Mar High School String Orchestra, Chagall String Quartet and Northwestern College. His electronic piece, "Crossfade," was included on the CD ...from everlasting to everlasting... His string quartet "6" was featured on WQED in Pittsburgh and was also a winning composition in the 2000 Southeastern Composers' Symposium. His hymn "People of the Lord" won the Calvin09 hymn contest and was subsequently sung and published internationally.
— Greg Scheer

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