153. The Ten Commandments

Text Information
First Line: My soul, recall with reverent wonder
Title: The Ten Commandments
Versifier: Dewey Westra, 1899-1979
Meter: 98 98
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ;
Topic: Commitment & Dedication; Law of God; Alternative Harmonizations (2 more...)
Source: Psalter Hymnal, 1987, rev.
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
CCLI Number: 5943951
Tune Information
Harmonizer: Claude Goudimel (1564, alt.)
Meter: 98 98
Key: F Major
Source: Genevan Psalter, 1547

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ex. 20:1; 19:18-19
st. 2 = Ex. 20:2-3
st. 3 = Ex. 20:4-6
st. 4 = Ex. 20:7
st. 5 = Ex. 20:8-11
st. 6 = Ex. 20:12
st. 7 = Ex. 20:13-16
st. 8 = Ex. 20:17

The Decalogue is given in Exodus 20: 1-17 (also Deut. 5:6¬-21). These Ten Commandments summarize the covenant stipulations to be obeyed by God's people; Deuteronomy makes very clear that God's commandments are the people's principal obligations in their covenant with the LORD God. In the New Testament, Jesus clearly regards them that way as well (Matt. 5:21, 27; 19:17-19; Mark 10:19; Luke

John Calvin prescribed the singing of the Decalogue in his Strasbourg liturgy (1545) as a rule of thanksgiving following the confession of sin. It had the same role in the Dutch Reformed tradition, in which the Decalogue was one of the very few non-psalm texts set to music. In translating the one hundred and fifty Psalms from Dutch to English, Dewey Westra (PHH 98) also provided translations for the Decalogue and for the New Testament canticles. This translation is from Het boek der psalmen (1773), which was reprinted as late as 1942 by Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. There were also nine stanzas in the original Dutch. Westra's versification (revised) was first published in the Psalter Hymnal Supplement (1974).

Liturgical Use:
May be sung as part of the confession of sin–often done with responsorial or antiphonal singing of the Decalogue and the Kyrie (see 258, transposed to F major) with brief organ interludes. Because use of the Decalogue as a rule of thanksgiving is one of the strengths of the Reformed tradition, however, it may well be sung after the confession of sin as a commitment to godly living–which is how stanza 9 directs our use of the commandments.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

LES COMMANDEMENS (French for "the commandments"), a rich and graceful tune in the Hypo-Ionian mode (major), was used in the Genevan Psalter (1547) for the Decalogue and for Psalm 140, and later in British psalters and in the Lutheran tradition. The first setting in the Psalter Hymnal derives from Claude Goudimel's (PHH 6) 1564 harmonization; his original harmonization with the melody in the tenor (on facing page in the hymnal) may be used for unison or choral stanzas.

Here are two performance suggestions: (a) the congregation or choir can sing stanzas 1 and 9 as a frame around the solo reading of stanzas 2 through 8 or of the corresponding verses from Scripture; (b) all can sing stanzas 1 and 9 (with the choir singing in harmony from the second setting), and the congregation can sing stanzas 2 through 8 antiphonally in unison. Organists can find preludes by Lutheran composers under the German title for this chorale tune: WENN WIR IN HÖCHSTEN NÖTEN SEIN.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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