124. If God the LORD Were Not Our Constant Help

Text Information
First Line: If God the LORD were not our constant help
Title: If God the LORD Were Not Our Constant Help
Versifier: Calvin Seerveld (1981)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 10 10 10 10 10
Topic: Deliverance; Trust in God; Assurance (2 more...)
Language: English
Copyright: © Calvin Seerveld
Tune Information
Name: GENEVAN 124
Harmonizer: Dale Grotenhuis (1985)
Meter: 10 10 10 10 10
Key: F Major
Source: Genevan Psalter, 1551
Copyright: Harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications

Text Information:

Praise for God's deliverance from the fierce hostility of the nations.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-5
st. 2 = vv. 6-8

One of the fifteen "Songs of Ascents" (120-134) the Israelites sang as they went up to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, Psalm 124 praises God for deliverance from the raging hostility of other nations. Thus it stands appropriately next to Psalm 123, which is a prayer for such deliverance. In two well-balanced stanzas, Israel first acknowledges that only the LORD could have delivered them when the "flood" of hostility attempted to “engulf” them (v. 4; st. 1), and then praises the LORD for deliverance (st. 2). The imagery of hostility shifts from that of a threatening flood in the first stanza to that of a fowler's snare and a threatening wild beast in the second stanza. From the closing verse comes the traditional "votum" of Reformed liturgy: "Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." Calvin Seerveld (PHH 22) prepared the unrhymed versification of this psalm in 1981 for the Psalter Hymnal.Scripture References: st. 1 = vv. 1-5 st. 2 = vv. 6-8

Liturgical Use
Contexts of gratitude for God's deliverance.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

GENEVAN 124 (also known as OLD 124TH) was first published in the 1551 edition of the Genevan Psalter. Dale Grotenhuis (PHH 4) harmonized the tune in 1985. One of the best known from the Genevan Psalter, the tune is published in most North American hymnals. By 1564 it was adopted in English and Scottish psalters and became known either as OLD 124TH or as the abridged TOULON, which omits the third line (see 521). Originally, the rhythm of the second line was the same as the fifth, and the third line contained a spritely syncopation: H QQ H H QH H QH. The rhythm in the Psalter Hymnal follows that of most recent North American hymnals.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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