58. O Mighty Rulers, Can You Claim

Text Information
First Line: O mighty rulers, can you claim
Title: O Mighty Rulers, Can You Claim
Versifier: Bert Polman (1983)
Meter: CMD
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Enemies & Persecution; Laments; Justice (2 more...)
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Composer: Annabeth McClelland Gay (1952)
Harmonizer: Dale Grotenhuis (1985)
Meter: CMD
Key: g minor
Copyright: Tune © 1958, 1986, Pilgrim Press. Reprinted with permisson from the Pilgrim Hymnal

Text Information:

A denunciation of wicked rulers and an appeal to God to destroy their power to work harm.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-9
st. 3 = vv. 10-11

The psalmist's reproof of wicked rulers expresses a concern frequently addressed in the Old Testament. Nothing corrupts the social order more pervasively or causes more human pain than the perversion of justice by the powerful, especially those who are supposed to uphold it. The psalmist denounces wicked rulers for corrupting justice (st. 1); appeals to God to destroy their power and bring their kind to an end (st. 2); and, in a final word, reassures the righteous that "there is a God who judges" (st. 3; see 82 for a similar theme). The early church applied Psalm 58 to Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:57-68). Bert Polman (PHH 37) versified this psalm in 1983 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Liturgical Use:
Many situations in which the Christian community needs to address government and the frequent miscarriages of justice perpetrated or condoned by government officials.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Annabeth McClelland Gay (b. Ottawa, IL, 1925) composed SHEPHERDS' PIPES in 1952, and her husband matched it with a hymn text to send as Christmas greetings. She wrote, "When I played it for him, he said, 'I wonder if Palestinian shepherds played on pipes, because that's what this tune reminds me of.' So his text followed ("The Shepherds' Pipes on Bethlehem's Heights") and from the text, the tune name."

The tune was first published in Pilgrim Hymnal (1958) with T. T. Lynch's text 'The Lord Is Rich and Merciful." Gay was organist and choir director in churches in New York and Ohio, including the Hale United Church of Christ in Dayton, Ohio, where her husband served as pastor. She was educated at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, and received a masters degree in sacred music from Union Theological Seminary, New York City. Other of her hymn tunes were combined with texts by her husband and sent with Christmas greetings; "Carol of Hope" was included in Worship II.

Dale Grotenhuis (PHH 4) harmonized SHEPHERDS' PIPES in 1985. In a minor tonality, this tune offers melodic repetitions and dependable rhythms. To do justice to this text, use a marcato performance.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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