When Israel Fled from Egypt Land (Psalm 114)

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The fourth of the "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), 114 was probably composed by a priest or Levite for use in the temple liturgy. It stands second in the "Egyptian Hallel" used in Jewish liturgy at the annual religious festivals prescribed in the Torah. At Passover, Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the meal; 115 through 118 were sung after the meal. With vivid metaphor (mountains skipping like rams) and masterful compression, this little hymn celebrates the mighty power of God displayed in the Exodus, at Sinai, in the Israelites' desert wanderings, and at the entrance to the promised land. God united with Israel at the time of the Exodus, taking up residence with them (st. 1). Earth's imposing and powerful features­ mountains and sea–yielded in awe to the redemptive purposes of God (st. 2), and the psalmist asks them to reflect on why they submitted (st. .3). The psalmist then calls upon all creation to tremble before Its Maker, who can still bring water out of dry, hard rock and provide for his people's every need (st. 4).

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The exodus from Egypt has become the key paradigm for God’s gracious deliverance. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 5 shows God’s response to this event as evidence of the fact that “God holds this world with fierce love,” and paragraph 21 points to the fact that ”God chose Israel to show the glory of his name, the power of his love, and the wisdom of his ways.”


When Israel Fled from Egypt Land (Psalm 114)

Additional Prayers

Optional prayer of baptismal renewal
Redeeming God,
just as you saved your people through the parting of the sea
so you have saved us through Jesus.
We praise you for this astonishing grace:
through Jesus, we have died to sin;
with Jesus, we were buried through baptism into death;
with Jesus, we are raised to a new life.
By your Spirit, help us offer ourselves to you,
as those who have been brought from death to life,
and may we serve you as instruments of righteousness. Amen.
— Lift Up Your Hearts (http://www.liftupyourheartshymnal.org)

We worship you, God of freedom and release;
you set us free from every form of slavery,
you quench our thirsty souls.
How can we keep from singing?
Drench your people with your Holy Spirit, so that we may praise you with all joy
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

A Prayer of Acclamation
Mighty God, you opened a door in the land of slavery,
so Israel fled from Egypt land.
You opened a passage in the sea,
so Israel fled from Egypt land.
You made the mountains shake and skip like rams,
so Israel fled from Egypt land and pilgrimed to the promised land. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

When Israel Fled from Egypt Land (Psalm 114)

Tune Information

F Major


Musical Suggestion

The tune ANDRE suggests a child-like telling of the story. Consider performing sts. 2 and 3 in canon to suggest the rolling of the waters and the skipping of the rams and lambs. 
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

When Israel Fled from Egypt Land (Psalm 114)

Hymn Story/Background

ANDRE by William B. Bradbury is a solid tune in which a simple harmonization supports melodic and rhythmic motives well suited to the story-like character of Psalm 114. In the 1912 Psalter and in earlier editions of the Psalter Hymnal, ANDRE was set to Psalm 113; for the 1987 edition, the tune was chosen for Psalm 114 and abridged from five to four phrases. This pairing of text and tune stuck and was subsequently used in Lift Up Your Hearts. Ten Harmsel suggests that "the parallel images make it especially suitable for antiphonal singing." One possible arrangement is to have all sing on stanza 1, men on stanza 2, a children's choir or women and children on stanza 3, and all again on stanza 4. A solid accompaniment for stanzas 1, 2, and 4 should give way to lighter playing for the questions of stanza 3, which is reminiscent of the Passover tradition in which children ask their parents why that night is different from all other nights.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Henrietta Ten Harmsel (b. Hull, IA, 1921; d. Grand Rapids, MI, March 16, 2012) versified this psalm in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal. Ten Harmsel attended Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. From 1949 to 1957 she taught English at Western Christian High School in Hull, Iowa, and from 1960 until retirement in 1985 was a member of the English department at Calvin College. Many factors contributed to Ten Harmsel's interest in the psalms. As a child she learned Dutch from her parents, and they instilled in her a love for the Dutch Psalter. Later J. W. Schulte Nordholt, poet, hymnologist, and professor of American history at the University of Leiden, became a great promoter of her interest in Dutch language and literature and her translation work. Ten Harmsel's translations from Dutch include Jacobus Revius: Dutch Metaphysical Poet (1968) and two collections of children's poems: Pink Lemonade (1981) and Good Friday (1984). In 1984 Ten Harmsel was awarded the Martinus Nijhoff translation award.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

William B. Bradbury (b. York, ME, 1816; d. Montclair, NJ, 1868) came from a musical family who encouraged him from an early age to learn to play various musical instruments. In 1830 his family moved to Boston. There he studied singing with Lowell Mason and sang in Mason's Bowdoin Street Church choir. In 1841 Bradbury moved to Brooklyn, New York, and became the organist at the Baptist Tabernacle in New York City. He organized children's singing classes, which developed into annual singing festivals and stimulated the teaching of music in the New York public schools. In 1854 William joined his brother Edward and a German piano maker to begin a piano firm, which became the Bradbury Piano Company. Bradbury wrote or edited sixty collections of popular music and edited and published numerous song books, including The Psalmodist (1844) and Golden Shower of Sunday School Melodies (1862). He is sometimes known as "the father of Sunday school hymnody."
— Bert Polman
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