52. Mighty Mortal, Boasting Evil

Text Information
First Line: Mighty mortal, boasting evil
Title: Mighty Mortal, Boasting Evil
Versifier: Helen Otte (1985)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 87 87 D
Scripture: Psalm 52
Topic: Judge, God/Christ as; Close of Worship
Language: English
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Composer: Aubrey L. Butler (1971)
Meter: 87 87 D
Key: F Major
Copyright: Tune © 1971, Broadman Press. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Text Information:

A godly man's denunciation of a rich and arrogant fool who has wronged him.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-4
st. 2 = vv. 5-7
st. 3 = vv. 8-9

Tradition ascribes this psalm to David on the occasion "when Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: 'David has gone to the house of Ahimelech'" (1 Sam. 21). The psalmist has been attacked by one who has grown wealthy and powerful by taking advantage of others with the most vicious of weapons, an evil tongue. Here the psalmist addresses him with the bluntness his folly deserves (st. 1). The fool is evil and arrogant, and God will bring him "down to everlasting ruin" (v. 5); then the righteous ones he disdained will mock his folly (st. 2). We join the psalmist in a testimony that only those who trust in the LORD will flourish like the long-lived olive tree, enjoying a ready welcome in God's house (st. 3). This psalm has much in common with Psalm 49. Helen Otte (PHH 17) versified Psalm 52 in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
Whenever the church reflects on the folly of those who live by taking advantage of others. The confidence and hope of stanza 3 make the psalm useful for many occasions in Christian worship.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Aubrey Lee Butler (b. Noble, OK, 1933) composed MADILL to accompany Milburn Price's text "Stir Thy Church, 0 God, Our Father." Butler named the tune after Madill, Oklahoma, where he served as a minister of music at the First Baptist Church. MADILL first appeared in a pamphlet, New Hymns for This Day (1971). This unison tune requires clear articulation of the repeated notes in the melody and a rather forceful (or even strident) performance of stanzas 1 and 2, with a more stately performance for stanza 3. The accompaniment establishes the half note as the primary beat.

Butler, known as "Pete" by his friends, began his music career as minister of music in several Baptist congregations in Madill and Ada, Oklahoma. He was educated at Oklahoma Baptist University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. Since 1983 he has been a member of the faculty of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri. He also established that school's church music program. Butler has composed hymn tunes, cantatas, and numerous anthems, and served on the editorial committee for The Baptist Hymnal (1991).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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