Psalm 112

112A: How Blest Are Those Who Fear the LORD

Performance Notes:

Text Information:

A praise song eulogizing the righteous.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-4
st. 3 =w. 5-6
st. 4 = vv. 7-8
st. 5 = v. 9
st. 6 = v. 10

The second of the eight "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), 112 was probably composed in the post-exilic period by a priest or Levite for temple worship. In structure and theme it is a poetic twin of Psalm 111, but while 111 sings the praise of the righteous God, 112 eulogizes the righteous one who fears the LORD.

The opening and closing verses frame the development of the main theme by contrasting the blessedness of the righteous (v. 1; st. 1) and the unhappy end of the wicked (v. 10; st. 6)–a common theme in Old Testament wisdom literature (see also 1, 34, 37, 49, and 73). The psalmist notes that the children of the righteous share in "their great reward" (st. 1) and that prosperity comes to the merciful and pure (st. 2). Those who befriend the weak find peace and a good name (st. 3), and those who trust in God have security from all their foes (st. 4). The righteous are generous to the poor and are "lifted high in honor" (v. 9; st. 5), but the wicked and their ways will come to nothing (st. 6). The (altered) versification of this wisdom psalm comes from The Book of Psalms (1871), a text-only psalter that was later published with music in the 1887 Psalter.

Liturgical Use:
Wedding or family services; wisdom emphasis; many other occasions in Christian worship.

Tune Information:

MELCOMBE was first used as an anonymous chant tune (with figured bass) in the Roman Catholic Mass and was published in 1782 in An Essay on the Church Plain Chant. It was first ascribed to Samuel Webbe (the elder; b. London, England, 1740; d. London, 1816) and named MELCOMBE in Ralph Harrison's Sacred Harmony (1791), the first of many Protestant hymnals to contain this popular Roman Catholic tune. The tune title refers to Melcombe Regis, the northern part of Weymouth in Dorsetshire, England, made famous through frequent visits by King George III (1738-1820).

Webbe's father died soon after Samuel was born without providing financial security for the family. Thus Webbe received little education and was apprenticed to a cabinet maker at the age of eleven. However, he was determined to study and taught himself Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German, and Italian while working on his apprenticeship. He also worked as a music copyist and received musical training from Carl Barbant, organist at the Bavarian Embassy. Restricted at this time in England, Roman Catholic worship was freely permitted in the foreign embassies. Because Webbe was Roman Catholic, he became organist at the Portuguese Chapel and later at the Sardinian and Spanish chapels in their respective embassies. He wrote much music for Roman Catholic services and composed hymn tunes, motets, and madrigals.

Webbe is considered an outstanding composer of glees and catches, as is evident in his nine published collections of these smaller choral works. He also published A Collection of Sacred Music (c. 1790), A Collection of Masses for Small Choirs (1792), and, with his son Samuel (the younger), Antiphons in Six Books of Anthems (1818).

MELCOMBE has a steady rhythmic structure and a lot of stepwise intervals. The original setting had one dotted rhythm in the third phrase, which is deleted in many hymnals, including the Psalter Hymnal. The harmony borrows from Webbe's original bass line and from William H. Monk's harmonization of MELCOMBE for Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861). Sing this tune in two long lines, with a small pause at the end of the first to allow a breath before singing the second.

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.
  • The following are alternative accompaniments for this tune, MELCOMBE

Alternative Harmonization for Organ and Descant Resources:

  • Archer, Malcolm. After the Last Verse. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0 86209 502 6 [1995]
  • Mawby, Colin.  Hymns for Occasions. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0-86209-568-9 [1994]
  • Noble, T. Tertius. Free Organ Accompaniments to One Hundred Well-Known Hymn Tunes. J. Fischer 8175 [1946]
  • Rawsthorne, Noel. 200 Last Verses. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0 86209 189 6 [1991]
  • Shaw, Geoffrey. The Descant Hymn-Tune Book bk 1. Novello 15207
  • Thiman, Eric. Varied Accompaniments to Thirty-Four Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Oxford ISBN 0 19 323210 3 [1937]
  • Wilkinson, John T. One Hundred and Four Descants for “The Hymn Book”. enThusia [1980]

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Psalter, 1887; rev. Psalter Hymnal, 1987, © Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Music (MELCOMBE 8.8.8.8): Samuel Webbe, 1782, P.D.
  • Reprint Information:
    • Words: permitted with a license from OneLicense.net or a CCLI License.
    • Music: The Music is in Public Domain. You do not need permission to reprint it.

112B: A Responsorial Setting: Happy Are They Who Delight

Performance Notes:

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words and Music: Hal H. Hopson © 1987 Hope Publishing Company
  • Psalm Text: from Evangelical Lutheran Worship © 2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, admin. Augsburg Fortress Publishers
  • Tone: © 2011 Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Reprint Information:
    • Words and Music: permitted with a license from OneLicense.net or a CCLI License.
    • When reprinting the Psalm Text and Tone, please use the correct copyright line. Faith Alive Christian Resources gives you permission to reprint the Tone for use in a worship setting.