275. The Lord Our God in Mercy Spoke

1 The Lord our God in mercy spoke:
"A God to you I'll be;
I'll bless your numerous race, and they
shall be a seed to me."

2 That promise Abraham believed
and pledged his child to God,
but water seals the blessing now
that once was sealed with blood.

3 How faithful are the ways of God;
his love endures the same.
He keeps the promise of his grace,
preserves his children's name.

4 So to the parents and their seed
shall God's salvation come,
and numerous households meet at last
in one eternal home.

Text Information
First Line: The Lord our God in mercy spoke
Title: The Lord Our God in Mercy Spoke
Author: Isaac Watts (1707, alt.)
Meter: CM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ;
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Abraham; Family; Baptism (5 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: George T. Thalben-Ball (1951)
Meter: CM
Key: F Major
Copyright: By permission of Oxford University Press

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Gen. 17:7
st. 2 = Gen. 22
st. 3 = Acts 2:38-39

Isaac Watts (PHH 155) first published this baptism hymn in his Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707). The Psalter Hymnal has omitted Watts's original third stanza and has altered the text considerably to update the language. Originally the first line read 'Thus saith the mercy of the Lord."
The song's four stanzas in the Psalter Hymnal are a "sung theology" of God's covenant with Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17:7) expressed in the context of baptism. Stanza 4 offers an unusual apocalyptic view of the meaning of baptism.

Liturgical Use:
Most often for infant baptism.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

ARDEN is a noble, singable, somewhat dramatic tune set to a fine accompaniment suited to harmony singing. Try having a soloist sing the words attributed to God in stanza 1.

George T. Thalben-Ball (b. Sidney, Australia, 1896; d. London, England, 1987) composed ARDEN for the BBG Hymn Book of 1951, on which he worked as an editor. In that volume ARDEN was a setting for Charles Wesley's "Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" (501). The tune is named for the district in Warwickshire, England, where the committee who compiled the BBG Hymn Book often met.

Thalben-Ball moved with his family from Australia to England when he was a child. His promise as an organist was evident early on: after studying at the Royal College of Music in London in 1910, he became organist at several London churches. At the age of sixteen he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. In 1923 he became the permanent organist of the Temple Church in London, a position he retained for many years. This church was largely destroyed during World War II, but it was restored in 1954 with an organ built under Thalben-Ball's supervision. An internationally known recitalist and an organist for the BBC, he helped shape the daily religious broadcasts of the BBC and contributed to the The BBG Hymn Book. He also became city and university organist in Birmingham, served as an examiner for the Royal School of Church Music, taught organ at the Royal College of Music, and was famous for his choral recordings at the Temple Church. Thalben-Ball was knighted in 1982.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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