O When Will We See Justice Done

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Our songs and prayers include honesty before God in which we express the pain we experience over our own sins and failures, the difficulties in both our lives and others’ lives, and our laments at the suffering and brokenness that marks our world and our lives. We have assurance, says Belgic Confession, Article 26, that Christ, our intercessor, will hear us, “since he suffered, being tempted, he is also able to help those who are tempted.”


We are encouraged to approach the throne with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Belgic Confession, Article 26, based on Hebrews 4). “We grieve that the church…has become a broken communion in a broken world” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 40).

We also “lament that our abuse of creation has brought lasting damage to the world we have been given...” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 51). And we cry to God for those who suffer in our world, knowing “that God…is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged...” (Belhar Confession, Section 4).


O When Will We See Justice Done

Additional Prayers

Author of all that is true and good, our world is filled with deceit,
and many would have us believe that there is no ultimate truth.
But we are your people, and by the power of your Spirit
we proclaim Jesus: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Write this upon our hearts and let our lives reflect our convictions. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

Source of persistent hope,
when the world totters because of injustice and wickedness fills the land,
we trust that your justice will prevail.
So we will rejoice in you and find our peace in Jesus our Savior. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

Victorious God, your Son Jesus taught us to ask, seek, and knock
in confidence that our requests would be answered.
In the struggles we face today and in all the battles that lie ahead,
give us the strength and wisdom to trust you in all circumstances
and to rejoice in you always. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

Loving God, you hear your peoples’ cry.
We turn to you for understanding, comfort, and help.
We praise and thank you for your wisdom, your strength, and your unfailing love,
made ours through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

O When Will We See Justice Done

Tune Information

e minor
Meter D refrain


Musical Suggestion

Each stanza may function as a refrain for the individual psalm. The stanzas may also be sung together, each culminating in the singing of the refrain, which is drawn from Ps. 61. The refrain may also be a conclusion to the setting, sung only after the final stanza.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

O When Will We See Justice Done

Hymn Story/Background

The author, Carol Bechtel, a member of the Lift Up Your Hearts editorial committee, writes:
The committee for Lift Up Your Hearts and Psalms for All Seasons had a wealth of good psalm settings from which to choose. However, there were a handful of psalms that had few or no acceptable settings. That was the case with psalms like 58, 59, & 60—all of which focus on the fate of the psalmist's enemies. Since I teach the psalms, the committee invited me to try my hand at a singable paraphrase that would faithfully represent these challenging psalms. I found that the common thread among them was a cry for justice. These are prayers by and for people who long for God's justice to prevail in the midst of agonizing situations. They are a cry from the heart of darkness where the righteous are abused while the wicked seem to suffer no consequences for their sins. Each verse of "O When Will We See Justice Done?" asks that central question in its own unique way. The refrain from Psalm 61 moves beyond the questions and anger of the three previous psalms and cries out to the God who is not only "higher than I," but who is "a strong tower against the enemy" (Ps. 61:2-3 NRSV).
Three things stand out for me in these psalms:
  1. The psalmists never lose faith in God's ultimate justice.
  2. They pray that justice will prevail, but don't take vengeance into their own hands.
  3. They invite us to stand beside those who are suffering, and to join in God's just work on their behalf.   
— Carol Bechtel

Thought by some scholars to date back to the Middle Ages, the tune KINGSFOLD is a folk tune set to a variety of texts in England and Ireland. It was published in English Country Songs (1893), an anthology compiled by Lucy E. Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland. After having heard the tune in Kingsfold, Sussex, England (thus its name), Ralph Vaughan Williams introduced it as a hymn tune in The English Hymnal (1906) as a setting for Horatius Bonar's “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.”
Shaped in classic rounded bar form (AABA), KINGSFOLD has modal character and is both dignified and strong. Use bright organ tone. 
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Carol Bechtel has served as professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, since 1994. She is a graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, and she received her Ph.D. in Old Testament from Yale University. Bechtel preaches and teaches widely and is the author of several books, including Esther: A Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Interpretation, WJK, 2002). She is a General Synod Professor of Theology in the Reformed Church in America and has served as president of the RCA’s General Synod (1998/1999) and as moderator of its General Synod Council (1999/2000). She lives in Holland, Michigan, with her husband, Tom Mullens, where they enjoy a growing group of children and grandchildren. Her interests include singing, cooking, gardening, and the Celtic harp. She served on the editorial committee for Psalms for All Seasons (2012) and for Lift Up Your Hearts (2013).
— Carol Bechtel

Composer Information

Through his composing, conducting, collecting, editing, and teaching, Ralph Vaughan Williams (b. Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England, October 12, 1872; d. Westminster, London, England, August 26, 1958) became the chief figure in the realm of English music and church music in the first half of the twentieth century. His education included instruction at the Royal College of Music in London and Trinity College, Cambridge, as well as additional studies in Berlin and Paris. During World War I he served in the army medical corps in France. Vaughan Williams taught music at the Royal College of Music (1920-1940), conducted the Bach Choir in London (1920-1927), and directed the Leith Hill Music Festival in Dorking (1905-1953). A major influence in his life was the English folk song. A knowledgeable collector of folk songs, he was also a member of the Folksong Society and a supporter of the English Folk Dance Society. Vaughan Williams wrote various articles and books, including National Music (1935), and composed numerous arrange­ments of folk songs; many of his compositions show the impact of folk rhythms and melodic modes. His original compositions cover nearly all musical genres, from orchestral symphonies and concertos to choral works, from songs to operas, and from chamber music to music for films. Vaughan Williams's church music includes anthems; choral-orchestral works, such as Magnificat (1932), Dona Nobis Pacem (1936), and Hodie (1953); and hymn tune settings for organ. But most important to the history of hymnody, he was music editor of the most influential British hymnal at the beginning of the twentieth century, The English Hymnal (1906), and coeditor (with Martin Shaw) of Songs of Praise (1925, 1931) and the Oxford Book of Carols (1928).
— Bert Polman
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