711

The Lord Is God, the One and True God

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

John Calvin’s favorite use of the Law was as an act of praise. Our sins are forgiven, therefore we do our best to live holy, grateful lives. Through the Law, God has shown us how. This three-stanza setting touches on all Ten Commandments and, in the final two lines of the third stanza, the Summary of the Law.

 

Sing! A New Creation

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

It is vitally important that worshipers understand the role of God’s law among us. God gives his law to us, not so that we can earn his favor by full obedience, for even those converted to God cannot obey this law perfectly. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 44, Question and Answer 114 says, “In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience.” Instead, says Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 2, Question and Answer 3, through this law “we come to know [our] misery.” 

 

Yet in their new life of gratitude, God’s children “with all seriousness of purpose, do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 44, Question and Answer 114). They measure their good works of gratitude as “those which are done out of true faith, conform to God’s law, and are done for God’s glory” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 91). 

 

In other words, though Christ has fulfilled the law for us, “The truth and substance of these things remain for us in Jesus Christ…[and] we continue to use the witnesses drawn from the law and prophets to confirm us in the gospel and to regulate our lives with full integrity for the glory of God according to the will of God” (Belgic Confession, Article 25). Therefore, the Ten Commandments with explanation are included in the third section, “gratitude,” (Lord’s Days 34-44) of Heidelberg Catechism.

711

The Lord Is God, the One and True God

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Thanks for God’s Gift of the Law
Wonderful God, your grace comes to us in so many ways. Today we give you thanks that your good commandments are the form of the gospel that invites us to thrive. Your commands are glad summons to flourish in Christ with all your people. When we refuse your commands it’s freedom we are refusing, it’s grace we are refusing. So we give you thanks that you have shown us how to find life and to find it in abundance, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
711

The Lord Is God, the One and True God

Tune Information

Name
COMMANDMENTS
Key
F Major
Meter
9.8.9.8

Musical Suggestion

Our congregation has used this hymn during Lent instead of reciting the Ten Commandments in the time of confession. It is also appropriate for Advent. Children in Sunday school may find it to be a convenient mnemonic for their efforts at memorizing the text of the Ten Commandments.
 
Allow the congregation to sing the middle stanza in parts, unaccompanied if possible, or with a single recorder, flute, or violin doubling the soprano part. The Genevan tune will stand up to slow tempi, but singers may not last that long. A steady moderato tempo is slow enough; speeding up into the allegro zone may work for an enthusiastic group. The tempo may also reflect whether the Law is being used as the standard which we all fail to uphold (guilt) or as God’s gift to us to help us live well (grace).
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 76)
— Kathleen Hart Brumm

This tune has a tricky opening phrase that shifts smoothly between patterns of two (half notes or two quarter notes in a row) and three beats (half note followed by one quarter note). Provide a solo organ stop or solo instrument on the melody to provide support while learning it. Sing in a hearty, steady andante, giving each half note one beat. Once the congregation knows it, consider singing it unaccompanied, in harmony. Don’t allow a heavy sound that would detract from the text. 
711

The Lord Is God, the One and True God

Hymn Story/Background

The tune COMMANDMENTS comes from the Genevan Psalter (1551), and was the setting for ten-verse metrical text of the Ten Commandments. 

Author Information

Daniel James Meeter (b. 1953) was ordained to the Reformed Church ministry in 1980, served churches in New Jersey, Michigan, and Ontario, and since 2001 has been the pastor and teacher at Old First Reformed Church in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a Ph.D. from Drew University in 1989, and is author of Meeting Each Other in Doctrine, Liturgy, and Government (Eerdmans, 1993). In the preface to that book he wrote: “I did my doctoral work on the children of the first Dutch immigration to North America. My own grandparents, who settled in Patterson [NJ] were part of the second immigration. And in Canada I served a congregation that come out of the third generation. But my warmest experiences of the Reformed church have been the African-American congregation in which I grew up (New Brooklyn) and the Hungarian congregation that was my first charge.” He is married to Rev. Melody Takken Meeter, director of pastoral care at the Lutheran Medical Center of Brooklyn. They have two grown children and two grandsons. 
— Emily Brink

Composer Information

The Genevan Psalter is the major gift of the Reformed branch of the Reformation to the song of the church. John Calvin (1509-1564) first experienced congregational singing of the psalms in Strasbourg when serving as a pastor of French exiles there, and when returning to Geneva in 1541 he finally persuaded the city council to permit congregational singing, which they had banned entirely under the influence of Ulrich Zwingli. Just two months after returning to Geneva, Calvin wrote in his Ecclesiastical Ordinances: "It will be good to introduce ecclesiastical songs, the better to incite the people to pray to and praise God. For a beginning the little children are to be taught; then with time all the church will be able to follow." Calvin set about overseeing the development of several metrical psalms with melodies, rather than the hymns, or chorales, of the Lutheran tradition, and also in contrast to the published psalters with texts only that followed in England and Scotland. The emerging Genevan Psalter was published in instalments until completed in 1562, including the 150 psalms, the Ten Commandments and the Song of Simeon. He employed the best French poets and composers to prepare metrical settings rather than continuing to chant the psalms, since poetry in meter was the popular form of the day—and also the choice for the Lutheran chorale.
 
The publication event was the largest in publishing history until then; twenty-four printers in Geneva alone, plus presses in Paris, Lyons, and elsewhere produced more than 27,000 copies in the first two years; more than 100,000 copies were available in over thirty editions. The Genevan Psalter was extremely popular, and almost immediately translated into Dutch, Hungarian, and German. Due to the intense persecution of the French Huguenots in the 16th century, the center of activity of the Reformed branch of the Reformation moved away from France and especially to the Netherlands, and from there to Indonesia, South Africa, and North America. The most recent translation (2004) of the entire psalter is into Japanese. The most recent English translation of the entire Genevan Psalter is available with melodies from the Canadian Reformed Book of Praise, available at http://www.canrc.org/?page=23 .
Calvin’s goal was to provide a distinct tune for every psalm, so that each psalm would have its own identity. Every tune would then bring to mind a particular psalm. The psalter didn’t quite reach this goal: it contains 125 different tunes. Today, only a few of those Genevan tunes are in wide use, among them the psalm tune most widely known around the world, often identified as OLD HUNDRETH, or simply, “The Doxology.” 
— Emily Brink

The music of Claude Goudimel (b. Besançon, France, c. 1505; d. Lyons, France, 1572) was first published in Paris, and by 1551 he was composing harmonizations for some Genevan psalm tunes-initially for use by both Roman Catholics and Protestants. He became a Calvinist in 1557 while living in the Huguenot community in Metz. When the complete Genevan Psalter with its unison melodies was published in 1562, Goudimel began to compose various polyphonic settings of all the Genevan tunes. He actually composed three complete harmonizations of the Genevan Psalter, usually with the tune in the tenor part: simple hymn-style settings (1564), slightly more complicated harmonizations (1565), and quite elaborate, motet-like settings (1565-1566). The various Goudimel settings became popular throughout Calvinist Europe, both for domestic singing and later for use as organ harmonizations in church. Goudimel was one of the victims of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of Huguenots, which oc­curred throughout France.
— Bert Polman
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