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103. Come, Praise the LORD, My Soul

Text Information
First Line: Come, praise the LORD, my soul
Title: Come, Praise the LORD, My Soul
Versifier: Helen Otte (1986)
Meter: 11 11 10 D
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Moses; Brevity & Frailty of Life; Family (10 more...)
Copyright: Text and harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Name: GENEVAN 103
Harmonizer: Howard Slenk (1985)
Meter: 11 11 10 D
Key: C Major
Copyright: Text and harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications

Text Information:

A call to all creation to praise the LORD for his boundless compassion to his people as sinners and mortals.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-5
st. 2 = vv. 6-10
st. 3 = vv. 11-14
st. 4 = vv.15-18
st. 5 = vv. 19-22

A hymn to God's love and compassion, Psalm 103 is a carefully crafted song. Not only is it composed of twenty-two lines, the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, but its opening and closing calls to praise (vv. 1-5, 20-22; st. 1,5) also frame a uniquely structured center (vv. 6-19).

Six verses honor God's compassionate and forgiving grace toward the Israelites as sinners (vv. 7-12; st. 2¬3), and six verses celebrate God's everlasting love for these chosen people, whose "days are like grass" (vv. 13-18; st. 3-4). Further framing this exposition of God's love are two verses (6, 19) that proclaim God's righteousness and justice, upon which the LORD has established his throne in heaven so that his kingdom rules over all. Moreover, according to the principle of describing the outer limits of something in order to refer to its whole (as one refers to a whole tree by speaking of its fruit above and its roots below, cf. Amos 2:9), the psalmist's opening call to "my soul" to praise the LORD and the closing call on God's angels to do the same invites all creation to praise its Maker and King.

Helen Otte (PHH 17) versified this psalm in 1986 for the Psalter Hymnal. Other settings of Psalm 103 are at 297, 475, 583, and 627.

Liturgical Use:
Covenant renewal/profession of faith services; conclusion of the Lord's Supper; Christian worship focusing on illness or other distresses that emphasize the frailty of human life; worship focusing on God's love and compassion.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

GENEVAN 103 was first published in 1539 in Strasbourg, where Calvin published a small collection of nineteen psalms. Howard Slenk (PHH 3) harmonized the tune in 1985. Psalm 103 is a favorite song in the Dutch Reformed tradition, partially because of its textual content, of course, but also because its Hypo-Mixolydian tune has great merit. The six long lines have satisfying melodic curves and two main rhythmic patterns supplied by lines 1 and 3 (the other lines are repeats of these) . Not all stanzas are equally jubilant, but strong organ accompaniment is helpful throughout.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)

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