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88. O LORD, I Call for Help by Day

Text Information
First Line: O LORD, I call for help by day
Title: O LORD, I Call for Help by Day
Versifier: Stanley Wiersma (1982)
Meter: 888
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Deliverance; Doubt; Laments (4 more...)
Copyright: Text and harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Harmonizer: Dale Grotenhuis (1983)
Composer: Gerben Baaij
Meter: 888
Key: d minor
Copyright: Tune © 1973, Leidboek voor de Kerken; Harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications

Text Information:

A cry from the depths for deliverance from death.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-6
st. 3 = vv. 7-8a
st. 4 = vv. 8b-9
st. 5 = vv. 10-12
st. 6 = vv. 14b-16
st. 7 = vv. 17-18
st. 8 = vv. 13-14a

Having lived an entire life in the shadow of the grave (v. 15), the psalmist cries out to God (st. 1, 6) from the brink of death (st. 2). Like Job, who was shown the back of God's hand for reasons unknown to him, the psalmist has experienced only unrelenting and harsh troubles, so that even friends and companions have withdrawn (st. 3). Held helpless in death's grip, the psalmist lifts hands to God (st. 4) and laments that in the realm of the dead there is no escape from death and no interaction with God (st. 5). Only those who have known such suffering and abandonment can call darkness their "closest friend" (st. 7). Still–and this is the one gleam of light in the darkness–they (and all of us in intercession) can call on the LORD, "the God who saves" (v. 1). Again like Job, who cried to the LORD, who was shown only trouble, and who was put "in the darkest depths" (v. 8), the psalmist ends in faith, trusting in the LORD, the only Savior from death. Stanley Wiersma (PHH 25) versified this darkest of all the psalms in 1982 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
Good Friday; as a prayer for those who are sick, especially those who suffer from a life-threatening illness.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

VERGEEF, O HEER, composed by Gerben Baaij (b. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1929), was first published in the Dutch hymnal Liedboek voor de Kerken (1973) as a setting for a translation of John Greenleaf Whittier's "Forgive, O Lord, Our Severing Ways." Baaij Studied organ, voice, and composition at the Protestant Church Music School in Utrecht. He is director of the Recreatie-centra of the Hervormde Kerk in the Netherlands and cantor and organist for the ecumenical services in the Doorn-Driebergen region.

Dale Grotenhuis (PHH 4) harmonized the tune in 1983. VERGEEF, O HEER is one of the few tunes in the Psalter Hymnal with only three lines; each is rhythmically unique, with the middle line providing the apex of the entire melodic curve. The song may be sung in parts or by two alternating groups, but stanzas 1 and 8 should always be sung by everyone.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)

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