191. Hear Us, O People, Hear Our Plea

Text Information
First Line: Hear us, O people, hear our plea
Title: Hear Us, O People, Hear Our Plea
Versifier: Calvin Seerveld (1984)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: LM
Scripture: Song of Solomon 8:6-7; Song of Solomon 3; Song of Solomon 8; Song of Solomon 8:7; Song of Solomon 2; Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5
Topic: Family; Love: Our Love for Others; Marriage
Language: English
Copyright: © Calvin Seerveld
Tune Information
Composer: Ralph Harrison (1784)
Meter: LM
Key: A♭ Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Song of Songs 2:7, Song of Songs 3:5, Song of Songs 8:4
st. 2 = Song of Songs 8:6
st. 3 = Song of Songs 8:7
st. 4 = Song of Songs 2:7, Song of Songs 3:5, Song of Songs 8:4

"Hear Us, O People" focuses on two of the main themes of the Song of Songs: that love should not be awakened until it is ready, and that love cannot be bought. The first is a recurring refrain in the Song-2:7; 3:5; 8:4–and is captured in stanzas 1 and 4. The second theme is the vow of true love the lovers exchange in 8:6-7–captured in stanzas 2 and 3.

Calvin Seerveld (PHH 22) wrote this paraphrase in 1984 for use at a wedding of friends. In addition to scholarly work on this book, Seerveld earlier wrote the libretto for an oratorio on the Song of Songs entitled The Greatest Song: In Critique of Solomon (1967; rev. 1989).

Liturgical Use:
Whenever preaching focuses on the Song of Songs; more common use will be at weddings or in services that focus on marriage, anniversaries, or marriage renewal.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

WARRINGTON was composed by Ralph Harrison (b. Chinley, Derbyshire, England, 1748; d. Manchester, Lancashire, England, 1810) and published in his collection of psalm tunes, Sacred Harmony (1784). The tune's rising inflections help to accent words such as erotic (probably the only time this word has been used in a hymn!).

Harrison was educated at Warrington Academy (hence the tune title), a school associated with the Unitarian Church. He became an independent minister, spending most of his life serving the Cross Street Chapel in Manchester. He also taught classics at the Manchester Academy, a school he established, and published two volumes of church music entitled Sacred Harmony (1784, 1791), which include a number of his own psalm and hymn tunes.

Here are two suggestions for use of this hymn at a wedding: (a) bride and groom (or their representatives) sing a duet, alternating on stanzas 2 and 3; (b) bride and groom sing stanzas 2 and 3 in unison, and the congregation sings stanzas 1 and 4–possibly with this change in line 1 of stanza 4: “With all who hear this solemn vow. . . .” Better known tunes for this text are WINCHESTER NEW (593) and OLD HUNDREDTH (134 and 638).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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