82. There Where the Judges Gather

Text Information
First Line: There where the judges gather
Title: There Where the Judges Gather
Versifier: Henry Zylstra (1953, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 76 76 D
Topic: Judge, God/Christ as; Society/Social Concerns; Justice (2 more...)
Language: English
Tune Information
Composer: William Lloyd (1840)
Meter: 76 76 D
Key: D Major

Text Information:

A prayer asking God, who calls all unjust rulers to account, to establish his righteous reign on earth.

Scripture References:
st. l =vv.I-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-5
st. 3 = vv. 6-8

Interpretations of Psalm 82 vary on many details, but one thing is clear: the psalmist has seen–and most likely experienced–that those who wield authority on earth are prone to promoting injustice rather than defending the powerless and oppressed (see also 58). Yet God sits in judgment as the great King over all such rulers (st. 1), calling them sternly to account (st. 1-2). In spite of their arrogant confidence in their power (st. 2), the LORD will terminate their little season of authority with death. In faith the psalmist sees the supreme Judge presiding over the heavenly court and prays for God to establish his righteous rule over all the nations on earth (st. 3). In the post-exilic temple liturgy, this psalm was sung at the time of the morning sacrifice on the third day of the week. Henry Zylstra (b. Platte, SD, 1909; d. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1956) prepared the versification in 1953 for the 1959 Psalter Hymnal; it was slightly altered for the 1987 edition.

Zylstra earned an undergraduate degree at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan; studied German literature at Iowa State University; and received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from Harvard University. From 1943 to 1956 he taught in the English department at Calvin College. His tenure there was interrupted by service in the United States Navy (1943-1945), during which he received the Bronze Star for "unusually meritorious service." He was studying under a Fulbright professorship at the Free University of Amsterdam when he died of a heart attack in 1956.

A founder of Reformed Journal, Zylstra was a greatly esteemed teacher and leader at Calvin College and in the Christian Reformed Church. His writings on education and on the relationship between culture and the Christian faith were especially valued; many of his essays were collected posthumously in Testament of Vision (1958). His translations of theological works from Dutch into English were also of a high calibre. From 1951 until his death Zylstra served on the committee that prepared the 1959 Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
When the church needs to speak against unjust use of power–especially by government.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

William Lloyd (b. Rhos Goch, Llaniestyn, Caernarvonshire, Wales, 1786; d. Caernarvonshire, 1852) composed MEIRIONYDD, which was first published in manuscript form with the name BERTH in Caniadau Seion (Songs of Zion, 1840, ed. R. Mills). The tune is named after the Welsh county Meirionydd in which Lloyd lived; that county is also the site of the Harlech Castle made famous in story and song. A cattle farmer and dealer, Lloyd was also a self-taught musician. He had a fine voice and conducted various singing societies in his hometown as well as in other cities.

Although generally attributed to Lloyd, MEIRIONYDD could be a traditional Welsh melody that he arranged. Shaped in bar form (AABC), the tune is set in sturdy rhythms and harmonies for choral singing. Compared to the typical triadic outlines in Welsh melodies, this tune is more stepwise. Sing it rather boldly, in balance with the tone of the text. A higher setting is found at 472.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.