Praise to the LORD far his exalted glory and mercies to the lowly.
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-4
st. 3 = vv. 5-6
st.4 = vv. 7¬-9
The third of the eight "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), 113 was probably composed by a priest or Levite for use in the temple. This psalm also begins the "Egyptian Hallelujah" used in Jewish liturgy at the annual religious festivals prescribed in the Torah. At Passover, Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the meal; 115 through 118 were sung after the meal. After opening with a call to praise the LORD (vv. 1-3; st. 1-2), the psalm celebrates the exalted glory of heaven's great King, who bends down to get involved in earth's affairs (vv. 4-6; st. 2-3). The LORD is merciful to the needy-seating the poor among princes and blessing the barren with children (st. 4). The (altered) versification is from the 1912 Psalter. Another setting of Psalm 113 is at 177.
Used in many Jewish festivals, including Passover, Psalm 113 is equally appropriate for special days of the Christian church year, especially Ascension (st. 3), and is generally fitting at the beginning of worship.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988