576. A Congregational Lament

Text Information
First Line: Why, Lord, must evil seem to get its way
Title: A Congregational Lament
Author: Calvin Seerveld (1986)
Meter: 10 11 11 10 10 11 10 11
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Laments; Walk with God; Afflictions (1 more...)
Copyright: © Calvin Seerveld
Tune Information
Name: GENEVAN 51
Harmonizer: Claude Goudimel (1564)
Meter: 10 11 11 10 10 11 10 11
Key: a minor

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 44:9-26

In 1983 Calvin Seerveld (PHH 22) wrote this prayer hymn in Toronto, Canada, for use with GENEVAN 51; he revised it in 1986 for publication in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.

The text is a modern lament, a contemporary prayer in the style of the biblical laments in the psalms. Most Old Testament laments cry to God for help in some situation of need and offer words of encouragement and trust in God's saving deeds. Much Christian hymnody is devoid of such biblical lamenting in specific time, of need and pain–the psalms clearly fill this void.

As the Psalter Hymnal indicates, gender-specific terms may be used interchangeably as appropriate to the person(s) on whose behalf this lament is raised. The intention is that two stanzas will ordinarily be sung: always the first, which recognizes sin in our lives and then a later stanza, which suits a specific situation–imprisonment (st. 2), illness (st. 3), divorce (st. 4), untimely death (st. 5), and other occasions of pain and sorrow (st. 6). Although the stanzas would not ordinarily be sung in sequence, Seerveld does provide a common refrain in the latter half of each of the "situation" stanzas.

Liturgical Use:
Always sing the first stanza and one other stanza; fitting for confession of sin early in worship or as part of the congregational prayers (a spoken introduction that refers to the specific situation may be helpful); funerals.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

See discussion of the hauntingly beautiful GENEVAN 51 at 51; Psalm 51 is one of the psalms of lament. Unison may be most appropriate for congregational singing of this lament. Though suitably solemn, this melody should not be sung too slowly.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)

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