How Would the Lord Be Worshipped; The Lord Will Raise You Up (Psalm 91); I Worship You, O Lord (Psalm 30)

Brink and Polman are coeditors of the forthcoming Psalter Hymnal Handbook.

Again in this issue of Reformed Worship, we offer a preview of the forthcoming Psalter Hymnal Handbook, a collection of essays on the history of music in the church as well as entries on every song and author and composer in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal. This ten-year-long project is now in production and is scheduled for release in Spring 1998.

The first and third songs presented here are from the Psalter Hymnal with commentary from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook. "How Would the Lord Be Worshiped" is based on Isaiah 58:6-11. Verses 1-12 of that chapter are appointed for Ash Wednesday services by the Revised Common Lectionary. That passage is a powerful call to worship God not only in word but also in deed and a very appropriate way to begin Lent.

"The Lord Will Raise You Up" is from the childen's hymnal Songs for LIFE. "I Worship You, O LORD," again from the Psalter Hymnal, is a setting of Psalm 30 that has become a favorite of many people. More than once we have heard comments about "discovering Psalm 30" in the Psalter Hymnal. The song is a powerful testimony to the resurrection of Christ and to the power of God to bring healing and restoration to those who were sick or estranged from God. The lectionary appoints this psalm not only for Easter, but also at several other times during the year.


How Would the Lord Be Worshiped

half note = 56


Inspired by a sermon on Isaiah 58:6-11, Marie J. Post (b. Jenison, MI, 1919; d. Grand Rapids, MI, 1990) wrote this unrhymed hymn text to illustrate the prophet's concept of true worship. Written in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1982, the text was first published in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.

The passage from Isaiah is a part of the prophet's sermon on the meaning of fasting. Through Isaiah's words God teaches his people that true worship consists not only in the proper rituals but also, and even more so, in the practice of righteousness in daily life. True worship requires fighting injustice, feeding the hungry, and clothing the destitute. The Old Testament prophets were insistent on this theme (Isa. 1:10-17; Jer. 7:21-26; Amos 5:21-24; Mic. 6:6-8). God will accept our Sunday worship and bless us only when such righteous deeds characterize our lives.

While attending Dutch church services as a child, Marie J. (Tuinstra) Post was first introduced to the Genevan psalms, which influenced her later writings. She attended Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she studied with Henry Zylstra. From 1940 to 1942 she taught at Muskegon Christian Junior High School. For over thirty years Post wrote poetry for the Grand Rapids Press and various church periodicals. She gave many readings of her poetry in churches and schools and has been published in a number of journals and poetry anthologies. Two important collections of her poems are I Never Visited an Artist Before (1977) and the posthumous Sandals, Sails, and Saints (1993). A member of the 1987 Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee, Post was a significant contributor to its array of original texts and paraphrases.

st. 1 = Isa. 58:6
St. 2 = Isa. 58:7
St. 3= Isa. 58:9b
st. 4 = Isa. 58:8-9a
St. 5 = Isa. 58:10b-11


The Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee sent Post's text to various musicians and requested a tune. The tune selected was HELDER, composed by Brent Assink (b. Bellingham, WA, 1955) in St. Paul, Minnesota, in December 1984. The following year the Dordt College Alumni Choir, of which Assink was a member, sang the hymn in Sioux Center, Iowa (the choir's conductor, Dale Grotenhuis, was a Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee member). The tune was named in honor of Assink's childhood piano teacher, Martha Helder.

HELDER features some striking melodic and rhythmic motives. For the first three stanzas, consider having a soloist or choir sing the question with the congregation on the response. Then sing all together in unison on stanzas 4 and 5.

Educated in music and business administration at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Assink received a master's degree in musicology from the University of Minnesota. He served the St. Paul Chamber

Orchestra first as assistant manager and then as artistic operations manager (1981-1990). From 1984 to 1990 he was also minister of music at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Bloomington, Minnesota. Assink became general manager of the San Francisco Symphony in 1990 but returned to the twin cities in 1994 to take the position of president and managing director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Liturgical Use

Worship that focuses on living the gospel in word and deed and on the meaning of worship; observances of world hunger, international relief operations, and urban ministries.


The Lord Will Raise You Up (Psalm 91)

Psalm 91 is another psalm appointed for Lent this year. It is also a traditional psalm for New Year's Day in the Dutch Reformed tradition (after singing Psalm 90 on New Year's Eve). A very simple way to include the psalm in a service is to have one or more people read the psalm verses, interspersed with the singing of the refrain by Michael Joncas. Joncas (b. Minneapolis, MN, 1955), a Roman Catholic priest, musician, and scholar, has written extensively on liturgical music, prayer, and the psalms, and has composed many liturgical songs. This song was also included in the first edition of Gather, an excellent collection of contemporary worship songs, which Joncas coedited.

The Leader's Edition of Songs for LIFE offers the following description of this psalm:

Psalm 91 is a psalm of trust and confidence that God will take care of us. The refrain is based on verse 4, where God is described as a bird that protects his young by tucking them under his feathers. Exodus 19:4 speaks of God canying his people "on eagle's wings." And Deuteronomy 32:11 portrays God as an eagle who "stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions." Tell the children how eaglets learn to fly: they are prodded from the safety of their nest to fly off a steep cliff. The mother eagle flies under them to catch them on her wings because their first attempts at flight are not very successful. She carries them higher, then releases them so they can try to soar again. The mother eagle is always there to protect, encourage, and teach her young. And we need the protection, encouragement, and insight that only God can provide. Our children need to feel the "hug" of God expressed in this song: it is a promise that provides security for their living.

Invite a young reader, or perhaps three different older children, to read the three sections. Sing the refrain a total of four times; once at the beginning, and again after each reading. Accompany this refrain either with the organ or, even better, with piano and guitar, perhaps with other instruments as well.


I Worship You, O Lord (Psalm 30)

quarter note = 96


The superscript of this psalm states that it is "for the dedication of the temple." Most likely this superscript refers to the dedication of the second temple by the returned exiles (see Ezra 6:16). In that case the "I" of the psalm came to refer to the repatriated community and the "healing" experienced in restoration from exile. Still later the Jews included this psalm in the liturgy for Hanukkah, the festival that celebrates the rededication of the temple in the days of Judas Maccabeus after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

In singing this thanksgiving psalm, we praise God for deliverance from the brink of death (st. 1) and call all "who know his name" to praise God for unfailing mercies (st. 2). Recalling the Lord's chastisement for proud self-reliance (st. 3), the psalmist reiterates a prayer offered while standing at death's door (st. 4) and closes in praise to God for turning sadness into gladness (st. 5).

The unrhymed versification by James E. Seddon (b. Ormskirk, Lancashire, England, 1915; d. London, England, 1983) was first published in Psalm Praise (1973). Psalm Praise, first published in England and subsequently in the United States, broke new ground in psalm singing by providing contemporary settings of the psalms and other portions of Scripture.

Seddon received his musical training at the London College of Music and Trinity College in London and his theological training at the Bible Churchmen's Theological College (now Trinity College) in Bristol. He served various Anglican parishes in England from 1939 to 1945 as well as from 1967 to 1980. Seddon was a missionary in Morocco from 1945 to 1955 and the home secretary for the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society from 1955 to 1967. Many of his thirty hymns are based on missionary themes; he wrote some in Arabic while he lived in Morocco. Seddon joined other Jubilate Group participants to produce Psalm Praise (1973) and Hymns for Today's Church (1982).

Calvin Seerveld (b. Bayshore, NY, 1930) provided stanza 4 in 1982 to provide a complete versification of the psalm for the Psalter Hymnal. Seerveld was professor of aesthetics at the Institute tor 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 Greatest Song: In Critique of Solomon (1967), For God's Sake, Run with Joy (19 72), Rainbows for the Fallen World: Aesthetic Life and Artistic Task (1980), and On Being Human (1988). He credits the Dutch musician Ina Lohr for influencing his compositions of hymn tunes. Most of his Bible versifications and hymns were written for the Psalter Hymnal (1987), on whose revision committee he ably served.

st. 1 = vv. 1-3
st. 2 = vv. 4-5
St. 3 = vv. 6-8
st. 4 = vv. 9-10
st. 5 = vv. 11-12


Norman L. Warren (b. London, England, 1934) composed BISHOP TUCKER in 19 71 for Seddon's text; it was also first published in Psalm Praise. The tune name is derived from Bishop Tucker Theological College in Uganda, where Warren and his wife led seminars on worship and counseling. Warren said the tune "is loosely based on a wisp of melody from Rachmaninov's D-flat Piano Concerto." BISHOP TUCKER is a tune of six very similar phrases, in which phrases 1 and 2 interchange to become phrases 5 and 6, and phrase 4 is a sequence of phrase 3. The testimony of God's healing and restoring power may be highlighted by having a soloist sing stanzas 3 and 4.

Warren was educated at Dulwich College, Corpus Christi College, and Ridley Hall Theological College in Cambridge, and was ordained in the Church of England in 1961. He served as vicar of St. Paul's Church, Leamington Spa (1963-1977), rector of Morden (1977-1989), and since 1989 has been archdeacon of Rochester. His publications include Journey into Life (1964) and What's the Point? (1986). Warren was a member of the Jubilate Group committees that published Psalm Praise (1973) and Hymns for Today's Church (1982). He has composed over one hundred hymn tunes.

Liturgical Use

Easter; occasions for testimony upon restoration from serious illness or difficulty.



A Great Christmas/ New Year Gift Idea

Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Consider giving the Psalter Hymnal Handbook as a gift to your pastor, musician, or any loved one. Just call 1-800-333-8300; we'll send you a gift card, and when the handbook is available (in March), your gift will be sent immediately! It's a substantial gift— close to 1,000 pages of backgrounds to all 641 songs; biographical information on 800+ authors, translators, composers, arrangers; and articles on church songs from earliest times until today. $59.95U780.95CDK pius shipping and handling.

Emily R. Brink ( is Senior Research Fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and former editor of Reformed Worship.


Bert Polman was a hymnologist, professor and chair of the music department at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He passed away in July 2013. 

Reformed Worship 46 © December 1997, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.