147. Sing Praise to Our Creator
Praise of God, the benevolent LORD of creation, who faithfully sustains and provides for his people.
st. 1 = vv. 1-3
st. 2 = vv. 4-7
st. 3 = vv. 8-11
st. 4 = vv. 12-18
st. 5 = vv. 19-20, 1
This post-exilic hymn may have been composed for the Levitical choir when Nehemiah dedicated the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem (v. 2; see Neh. 12:27-43). The psalmist sings the greatness and goodness of God-the Creator, Provider, and benevolent Ruler of creation, the Redeemer and faithful Keeper of his chosen people. For each aspect of God's work the psalmist cites a number of specific illustrations. As Creator (st. 1), God numbers the stars (st. 2) and governs the orderly cycle of the seasons (st. 4). As Provider, God sends rain on the earth so that all creatures have food (st. 3). As benevolent Ruler, the LORD heals the brokenhearted and raises up the lowly but casts down the arrogant and the wicked (st. 2-3). As Israel's Redeemer and Keeper, God gathers the exiles; rebuilds Jerusalem (v. 2; st. 1) and strengthens its defenses (v. 13); gives peace along its borders and abundant crops in the fields (v. 14; st. 4); and reveals to the people the LORD's laws and decrees (st. 5). Marie J. Post (PHH 5) versified this psalm in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal. Another setting of Psalm 147 is at 187.
Especially appropriate for services focusing on God's providence; many other uses in Christian worship.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
John Bacchus Dykes (b. Kingston-upon-Hull' England, 1823; d. Ticehurst, Sussex, England, 1876) wrote HARTFORD in 1872 for the text “The Voice that Breathed o'er Eden” on the occasion of a friend's wedding. The American tune title HARTFORD refers to the capital of Connecticut. The tune is known in England as BLAIRGOWRIE, which refers to a small island town northwest of Dundee, Scotland. The tune became the setting for Psalm 147 in the 1912 Psalter. Surely intended for part singing, HARTFORD is a double-meter tune with dependable rhythms and ascending melodic motives. Singers should combine the eight short phrases into four long lines; accompanists will want to use lots of bright organ color–and other instruments for festive services.
As a young child Dykes took violin and piano lessons. At the age of ten he became the organist of St. John's in Hull, where his grandfather was vicar. After receiving a classics degree from St. Catherine College, Cambridge, England, he was ordained in the Church of England in 1847. In 1849 he became the precentor and choir director at Durham Cathedral, where he introduced reforms in the choir by insisting on consistent attendance, increasing rehearsals, and initiating music festivals. He served the parish of St. Oswald in Durham from 1862 until the year of his death. To the chagrin of his bishop, Dykes favored the high church practices associated with the Oxford Movement (choir robes, incense, and the like). A number of his three hundred hymn tunes are still respected as durable examples of Victorian hymnody. Most of his tunes were first published in Chope's Congregational Hymn and Tune Book (1857) and in early editions of the famous British hymnal, Hymns Ancient and Modern.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook