Hymn of the Month

By: A. C. Bridges (Originally printed in the August 1981 ARP Magazine.)

We are focusing on a metrical version of Psalm 22:27-30, found as No. 501 in The Hymnbook, No. 295 in Trinity Hymnal, and No. 42 in-Bible Songs. The first line in the two hymnals is, “The ends of all the earth shall hear.” The Christian can hardly read Psalm 22 without thinking of the cross of Christ, for the first verse of the Psalm is the one from which Jesus quoted while upon the cross. The Psalmist probably experienced this agony himself, and yet as we read it, we see the sufferings of Christ.

But the latter part of this Psalm, paraphrased in this month’s music, is like a shout of victory. After Christ’s death, there was victory because of His resurrection from the dead. In the Psalm, beginning at verse 27, we hear the results of victory as we read, ” All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee.” Thus the metrical Psalm portion before us is the assurance that the world is going to hear the Good News and turn to the Lord. It is a picture of the King ruling the nations and the earth bringing its homage to the Lord of lords, the King of kings.

Note that this kingdom is to be made up of “both rich and poor, both bond and free,” and “children’s children.” The version we sing, then, is one of praise and of victory and assurance that the Lord of lords, the King of kings, is victorious.

The version in The Hymnbook and Trinity Hymnal is from the Psalter published in 1912 by the old United Presbyterian Church, based on the work of a committee representing nine denominations. Eighty-five metrical Psalms from the Psalter are in Trinity Hymnal, and 55 in The Hymnbook.

The version in Bible Songs is not the one found in this Psalter. But it too is from the latter part of Psalm 22, and it is entitled “The Coming Triumph of the Gospel.”

The tune, Vision, is by William Howard Doane (1832-1915). Doane was born in Preston, Conn., did his first musical composition at age 14, and in his final year of school was converted and joined the Baptist Church. In 1860 he moved to Cincinnati and became a successful businessman and a respected and beloved civic and church leader. He patented more than 70 inventions.

His avocation was composing hymn tunes and editing collections. There are more than 2,200 of his tunes and more than 40 collections which were widely known and extremely popular. Fanny J. Crosby’s gospel songs often were set to tunes he composed and sent to her. He did much work for the Moody-Sankey evangelistic team. The French government presented him with the Legion of Honor badge in appreciation of his services to Christianity.

At the international conference of the YMCA at Montreal in 1867, Doan heard the poem, “Tell Me the Old, Old Story.” He was so impressed that he borrowed it, copied it, and subsequently set it to music. Another of his tunes which has become more popular in the last few years, is one set to a Crosby song, “To God Be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done.” Seven of his tunes are in The Hymnbook and nine in Trinity Hymnal.

(This hymn can be found in The Hymnbook #501 and Trinity Hymnal #368. Psalm 22 can also be found in Bible Songs #43 with a different tune.)



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