Psalm 117

Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!

–Psalm 117 (ESV)

While Psalm 117 sets a record as the shortest song in the Psalter (and the shortest chapter in the Bible), it certainly isn’t short on praise.  The psalmist’s statement is simple: All peoples should praise the Lord for his steadfast love and faithfulness.

231, “Praise Jehovah, All Ye Nations”

(Sung at Synod 2012)

The five lines of Psalm 117 had to be stretched and fitted to the eight lines of number 231 in the blue Psalter Hymnal.  Nevertheless, the creators of this setting did an excellent job, and the original significance of Psalm 117 shines through the text clearly and completely.

I’ve often found the beauty of this tune especially striking due to its derivation from a Dutch folk melody.  The wide melodic range of IN BABILONE seems to echo the worldwide extent of the psalm, and the fluctuating melody line exudes its abundant praise.  While the tune isn’t at all hard to sing, it can give organists a run for their money with its lively tempo and complex bass line.  But as long as the tune is played confidently and not too fast, number 231 can be cleanly and successfully rendered.

How might “Praise Jehovah, All Ye Nations” be utilized in a worship service?  Although it may be rather too short for the traditional musical slots in the service (opening psalm, psalm of preparation, &c.), Psalm 117 would make an excellent doxology, or a congregational response to an element of the worship service.  But however Psalm 117 is used, its words of praise should never be far from the Christian’s lips.

Praise Jehovah, all ye nations,
All ye people, praise proclaim;
For his grace and loving-kindness
O sing praises to His Name.
For the greatness of His mercy
Constant praise to Him accord;
Evermore His truth endureth;
Hallelujah, praise the Lord!


1 Response to “Psalm 117”

  1. 1 Jim O July 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Psalm 117 is “a perfect concentration of meditation and response: all that God is to us (‘steadfast love… faithfulness’) evokes all that we can be to him (‘praise the LORD… extol Him’).” – Eugene Peterson

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