|Incipit:||11231 34554 32134|
|Source:||Genevan Psalter, 1539;Matthäus Greiter's Strassburger Kirchenamt, 1525|
GENEVAN 68 is usually attributed to Matthäus Greiter (b. Aichach, Bavaria, 1490; d. Strasbourg, France, 1550). It was published as a setting for Psalm 119 in Das dritt theil Strassburger Kirchenampt (1525), which Greiter and his friend Wolfgang Dachstein edited. Greiter studied at Freiburg University and became a monk and musician at the Strassburg Cathedral. Influenced by Wolfgang Dachstein, Greiter joined the Lutheran Church in 1524 and served several Lutheran congregations in the Strassburg area. He also taught at the Gymnasium Argentinense (high school) and eventually directed a choir school. However, the year before his death Greiter returned to the Roman Catholic Church. He is thought to have been the music editor of John Calvin's first Strasbourg Psalter, Aulcuns Pseaulmes et Cantiques (1539).
Greiter's tune was later published with Psalm 36 in the 1539 Strasbourg Psalter approved by John Calvin for worship in Geneva, and still later with Psalm 68 in the 1562 edition of the Genevan Psalter. This sturdy tune is known among Lutherans as O MENSCH BEWEIN' and in the British tradition (with alterations) as OLD 113TH. Written in the Ionian (major) mode, GENEVAN 68 became the battle song of the Calvinist Reformation throughout Europe (analogous to Luther's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" in the Lutheran tradition). It has been called the "Huguenot Marseillaise," and stanzas 1 and 6 (1 and 10 in the old Dutch versification) are probably the best known in the Dutch Reformed tradition.
The melody consists of four long phrases shaped into a bar form (AABC). Its first phrase is identical to the first phrase of LASST UNS ERFREUEN (431). Two harmonizations are given–one composed in 1985 by Howard Slenk (PHH 3), and the 1564 setting (opposite 67 in the hymnal) by Claude Goudimel (PHH 19) with the melody in the tenor, which was typical of that time. GENEVAN 68 is a fine processional tune requiring a stately tempo. Antiphonal singing is best for the entire psalm; try this pattern, alternating accompaniment as well:
Everyone: stanzas 1 and 9
Group A: stanzas 2, 4, 6, and 8
Group B: stanzas 3, 5, and 7
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988
Harmonizations, Introductions, Descants, Intonations