If God Does Not Build Up the House

If God does not build up the house

Versifier: Calvin Seerveld (1980)
Tune: CREDO (Stainer)
Published in 1 hymnal

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI
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Versifier: Calvin Seerveld

Calvin Seerveld (b. 1930) was professor of aesthetics at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto from 1972 until he retired in 1995. Educated at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan; the University of Michigan; and the Free University of Amsterdam (Ph.D.), he also studied at Basel University in Switzerland, the University of Rome, and the University of Heidelberg. Seerveld began his career by teaching at Bellhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi (1958-1959), and at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois (1959-1972). A fine Christian scholar, fluent in various biblical and modern languages, he is published widely in aesthetics, biblical studies, and philosophy. His books include Take Hold of God and Pull (1966), The Gr… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: If God does not build up the house
Title: If God Does Not Build Up the House
Versifier: Calvin Seerveld (1980)
Language: English
Copyright: © Calvin Seerveld


Godly wisdom teaches that all of life's securities are gifts of God and not human achievements.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2a
st. 2 = vv. 2b-5

One of fifteen "Songs of Ascents" (120-134) the Israelites sang as they went up to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, Psalm 127 reflects themes of Old Testament wisdom, reminding Israel that all of life's basic securities and blessings are gifts from God alone (see also 128). Two basic themes develop in two balanced stanzas. The first focuses on God's provision and sure care of the believer's house and of the city that fears the LORD (st. 1), and the second cites children as God's gift of heritage and security to believing parents (st. 2). In Hebrew, the words house and children are linked by their similar sounds; in calling sons a "heritage from the LORD," the psalmist may have intended a subtle reference to the guarantee that sons secured the family heritage of land in the promised land.

Using unrhymed verse, Calvin Seerveld (PHH 22) paraphrased Psalm 127 in 1980 for the Psalter Hymnal. He gave the last two lines of each stanza "an epigrammatic character, because the cast of the text is indeed proverbial, meant to capture a truth in a memorable couplet."

Liturgical Use:
Weddings; family life services; services that mark "beginnings."

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


CREDO (Stainer)

John Stainer (b. Southwark, London, England, 1840; d. Verona, Italy, 1901) composed CREDO for the text "We Saw Thee Not When Thou Didst Come"; the tune was published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1875). CREDO, like some other Victorian tunes, depends as much on its harmonization as on its melody for…

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #127
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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #127

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