Praise Notes: The Book of Praise #9


 

Hymn #9

How blest are they, who, fearing God

Psalm 19
St. Andrew
Paraphrase, Scottish Psalter 1650 
Music: William Tans’ur’s New Harmony of Zion 1764
 
God’s law is perfect and converts
the soul in sin that lies:
God’s testimony is most sure
and makes the simple wise.
 
The statutes of the Lord are right
and do rejoice the heart:
the Lord’s command is pure, and doth
light to the eyes impart.
 
Unspotted is the fear of God
and ever doth endure;
the judgements of the Lord are true
together, right and sure.
 
They more than gold, yea much fine gold,
to be desired are
than honey, honey from the comb
that droppeth, sweeter far.
 
Moreover, they thy servants warn
how they their life should frame:
a great reward provided is
for them that keep the same.

If you recall, in my last Praise Notes I mentioned that I am not a fan of hymns in which the paraphrase needs to twist around to match the tune.  Hymn #9 has one verse which does this.  If you don’t take time to puzzle it out, this verse is just a series of words to a pretty tune.   The meaning is that God’s laws are desired more than fine gold and sweeter than honey from the comb.  All this twisting of sentence structure was done to retain a rhyme scheme.  I personally would have preferred that it not rhyme and make some sense.  I believe this sort of thing is a large part of the reason people feel that the traditional hymns of the Christian church are outdated and boring.

 

As for the music, William Tans’ur wrote a pleasant lilting melody.  The harmonies are pleasant, although the alto part does spend most of the time on one of three notes.  The bass and tenor lines are a bit more interesting to sing.  All together a good piece of music which only appears once in the book as the prescribed melody.  Another of his pieces, Bangor,  comes up elswhere in the Book of Praise at #s 6, 232 and 751 and won’t be part of my series as the lyrics for all three are still under copyright.  It is a lovely composition, written in a minor key.

 

 

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