72. Hail to the LORD's Anointed

Text Information
First Line: Hail to the LORD's anointed
Title: Hail to the LORD's Anointed
Versifier: James Montgomery (1822)
Reviser: Bert Polman (1985)
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Doxologies; Ascension & Reign of Christ; Biblical Names & Places: David (17 more...)
Copyright: Text © 1987, CRC Publications
Tune Information
Meter: 76 76 D
Key: G Major
Source: German

Text Information:

A commemoration of Messiah’s righteous and glorious reign.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-4
st. 2 = vv. 5-8
st. 3 = vv. 9-11
st. 4 = vv. 12-14
st. 5 = vv. 15-16
st. 6 = vv. 17-19

Psalm 72 is a prayer for blessing upon God's anointed king, probably intended for use in a liturgy for coronation. Later Jewish traditions and the early church saw in it a description of Messiah's righteous reign. The psalm expresses the people's desire that God so endow the king that righteousness and justice will characterize his reign (v. 1). This king will be worthy of high praise, for he will defend the poor and crush the oppressor (st. 1); his reign of refreshing peace and blessing will extend "over every nation" (st. 2). All nations will submit to him and bring him tribute (st. 3). He will rescue the poor, oppressed, and needy, for they are "precious in his sight" (st. 4). Prayers for the longevity and prosperity of his kingdom and praise for him will never cease (st. 5). His name will endure forever, as will his blessings among all nations, invoking eternal praise of the God whose glory fills creation (st. 6; see also Ps. 101).

James Montgomery (b. Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, 1771; d. Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, 1854) wrote this text for Christmas 1821 as an ode based on Psalm 72. It was first published in its entirety (eight stanzas) in 1822 in Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, and later that year Montgomery also published it in his Songs of Zion. Montgomery's original paraphrase contains explicit Christian messianic overtones; Bert Polman’s (PHH 37) 1985 revision brings the versification closer to the biblical text. Other partial settings of Psalm 72 are at 359, 412, 541, and 630.

The son of Moravian parents who died on a West Indies mission field while he was in boarding school, Montgomery inherited a strong religious bent, a passion for missions, and an independent mind. He was editor of the Sheffield Iris (1796-1827), a newspaper that sometimes espoused radical causes. Montgomery was imprisoned briefly when he printed a song that celebrated the fall of the Bastille and again when he described a riot in Sheffield that reflected unfavorably on a military commander. He also protested against slavery, the lot of boy chimney sweeps, and lotteries. Associated with Christians of various persuasions, Montgomery supported missions and the British Bible Society.

He published eleven volumes of poetry, mainly his own, and at least four hundred hymns. Some critics judge his hymn texts to be equal in quality to those of Isaac Watts (PHH 155) and Charles Wesley (PHH 267). Many were published in Thomas Cotterill's Selection of Psalms and Hymns (1819 edition) and in Montgomery's own Songs of Zion (1822), Christian Psalmist (1825), and Original Hymns (1853).

Liturgical Use:
Advent; Epiphany; Ascension celebrations; also suitable as a missionary song.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVOGELEIN, a German folk tune, was first published in an early-seventeenth-century manuscript collection from Memmingen, Germany. It later became a setting for Christopher Wordsworth's (PHH 361) "O Day of Rest and Gladness" in George R. Woodward's Songs of Syon (1910 edition). The tune shares its opening motive and also its bar-form structure (AABA') with LOBE DEN HERREN (253). ES FLOG's combination of a sturdy tune and an able harmonization calls for energetic art singing that remains vibrant but not rushed. Psalm 72 also lends itself to antiphonal performance: the outer stanzas (1, 6) may be sung by everyone; the other stanzas by alternating groups.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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