Psalm 136

136A: Let Us with a Gladsome Mind

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1090 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.
  • The following article is from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.

Text Information:

A recital of praise of the LORD as Creator and as the Redeemer of Israel.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-4
st. 3 = vv. 5-7
st. 4 = vv. 8-9
st. 5 = vv. 10-14
st. 6 = v. 15
st. 7 = vv. 16-20
st. 8 = vv. 21-22
st. 9 = vv. 23-25
st. 10 = v. 26

In Jewish tradition, Psalm 136 served with 135 as an appendage to the "Songs of Ascents." Like 135, it is a liturgy of praise to the LORD as Creator and as Israel's Redeemer, noteworthy for its recounting of Israel's history (see also 78, 105, and 106). This song's obvious antiphonal form presupposes recitation by a Levite soloist (or choir) and responses by the worshiping congregation.

The psalmist calls on the saints to thank and praise the LORD, the kind and true God (st. 1), the one who rules over all (st. 2). God is the Creator of heaven and earth (st. 3) and of the sun, moon, and stars (st. 4). The LORD struck down Egypt's firstborn and parted the Red Sea to lead Israel out of slavery (st. 5), and then brought the waters down upon Pharaoh and his army (st. 6). God sustained the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness and destroyed the kingdoms in the land of Canaan (st. 7) to give Israel their promised land (st. 8). God has ever rescued and sustained us, says the psalmist (st. 9); so let us thank and praise the LORD (st. 10). The versification of Psalm 136 is a 1985 revision by Marie J. Post of the twenty-four-stanza versification written by John Milton (b. Cheapside, London, England, 1608; d. London, 1674) in 1623 when he was fourteen years old. The litany's refrain appears in the second half of each even-numbered stanza. Another setting of Psalm 136 is at 182.

The greatest English poet of the seventeenth century, Milton was also, at various times, a teacher, pamphleteer, and statesman. Educated at St. Paul's School and Christ College, Cambridge, he mastered Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, as well as most modern European languages. A voracious reader of literature and theological works, Milton was also a staunch supporter of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans; he wrote fiery pamphlets defending their causes. He also wrote famous–though not always well-received–essays on freedom of expression and divorce on the basis of incompatibility. Cromwell appointed him Secretary of Foreign Tongues in 1649, but Milton fell from grace when Charles II returned to the throne in 1660. Although he had been a skillful poet throughout his life, Milton's greatest achievement came in his last years. After his political demise and the loss of his sight, he wrote Paradise Lost (1667) and Paradise Regained (1671). His nineteen psalm paraphrases were published in his Poems in English and Latin (1673 edition).

Liturgical Use
Psalm 136 in many ways parallels Psalm 135 and thus will have similar uses. Psalm 136 is the only psalm structured entirely in litany form. It serves well for Easter and for baptisms as a processional or gathering.

Tune Information:

The tune MONKLAND has a fascinating if complex history. Rooted in a tune for the text "Fahre fort" in Johann A. Freylinghausen's famous hymnal, Geistreiches Gesangbuch (1704), it then was significantly altered by John Antes (b. Frederick, PA, 1740; d. Bristol, England, 1811) in a Moravian manuscript, A Collection of Hymn Tunes (c. 1800). Antes was a missionary, watchmaker, business manager, and composer. Born near the Moravian community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, he was trained at the Moravian boys' school and later received religious education and further training as a watchmaker in Herrnhut, Germany. From 1770 to 1781 he served as a missionary in Egypt and from 1783 until his death was the business manager of the Moravian community in Fullneck, England. Although music was his avocation, Antes was a fine composer and musician. Among his compositions are a number of anthems, several string trios, and over fifty hymn tunes.

MONKLAND received its present shape at the hands of John Lees in another Moravian hymnal, Hymn Tunes of the United Brethren (1824). From there John Wilkes (b. England, date unknown; d. England, 1882) simplified it and introduced it to Henry W. Baker, who published it in the English Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) to his own harvest-theme text, "Praise, O Praise Our God and King." Wilkes named the tune after the village where he was organist and Baker was vicar–Monkland–located near Leominster in Herefordshire, England. Wilkes died around he should not be confused with the better-known John Bernard Wilkes (1785-1869).

Other Resources:

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

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]
  • Rawsthorne, Noel. 200 Last Verses. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0 86209 189 6 [1991]
  • 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]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]

Copyright Information:

  • Words: John Milton (1608-1674); alt. Marie J. Post, 1985, © 1987 Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Music (MONKLAND 7.7.7.7): J. Freylinghausen’s Geistreiches Gesangbuch, 1704; adapt. John Antes, ca. 1800; arr. John Wilkes, 1861, 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.

136B:Let Us with a Gladsome Mind

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1090 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.

Other Resources:

Copyright Information:

  • Words: John Milton (1608-1674), P.D.
  • Music (GENEVAN 136 adapt. 7.7.7.7 with refrain): Genevan Psalter, 1562; arr. Eelco Vos © 2011 Eelco Vos, admin. Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Reprint Information:
    • Words: The Words are in Public Domain. You do not need permission to reprint the Words.
    • Music: permitted with a license from OneLicense.net or a CCLI License.

136C: We Give Thanks unto You

Performance Notes:

  • For more information about this song, refer to the Leader’s Edition of Sing! A New Creation.
  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1090 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.

Other Resources:

  • Purchase an octavo arrangement or recording of this song from GIA Publications, Inc. (Please note: This song is called by its alternative name, “For Your Love is Never Ending” on the octavo and recording.)
  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.

Copyright Information:

  • Words and Music: Marty Haugen (b. 1950) © 1987 GIA Publications, Inc.
  • Reprint Information:

136D: A Responsorial Setting

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1090 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.

Other Resources:

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

Copyright Information:

  • Refrain and Tone: Frederick A. Gore Ouseley, P.D.
  • Psalm Text: from Evangelical Lutheran Worship © 2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, admin. Augsburg Fortress Publishers
  • Reprint Information for the Refrain:
    • Refrain and Tone: both are in Public Domain; you do not need permission to reprint them.
    • When reprinting the Psalm Text, please use the correct copyright line.

 

  • Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788), 1739, alt. P.D.
  • Music (EASTER HYMN fragment): Lyra Davidica, 1708, P.D.
  • Tone: © 2011 Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Reprint Information for the Alternative Refrain:
    • Words and Music: both are in Public Domain; you do not need permission to reprint this song.
    • Faith Alive Christian Resources gives you permission to reprint the Tone for use in a worship setting; please use the correct copyright line.

136E: Give Thanks to God, for Good Is He

Performance Notes:

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 136:1-4
st. 2 = Ps. 136:5-9
st. 3 = Ps. 136:23-26

This hymn of thankful praise is based on sections from Psalm 136, the great litany psalm. The litany refrain is captured in two alternating phrases about God's love and mercy that endure forever. The versification dates from the 1912 Psalter.

Tune Information:

Arthur S. Sullivan composed CONSTANCE for James G. Small's hymn text "I've Found a Friend, O Such a Friend"; the sentiment of that text explains the tune title. That text and tune were published in the Swedenborgian New Church Hymn Book (1874).

CONSTANCE is a solid Victorian tune with a fine climax in the melody of its final line. Though not specifically designed for the responsorial performance Psalm 136 requires, CONSTANCE can be performed in a dramatic manner that would please its operatically oriented composer. Organists could change registration or let the congregation sing unaccompanied on the refrain phrases. Or have one part of the congregation (or the choir or a good soloist) sing the first half of each line, and have everyone respond with the second half of each line, preferably by singing in parts. Emily R. Brink composed the alternative harmonization in 1987 for the Psalter Hymnal.

Other Resources:

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

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Psalter, 1912, alt., P.D.
  • Music (CONSTANCE 8.7.8.7 D): Arthur S. Sullivan, 1875, P.D.
  • Reprint Information:
    • Words and Music: both are in Public Domain; you do not need permission to reprint this song.

136F: We Thank You, Lord, for You Are Good

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1090 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.

Other Resources:

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

Copyright Information:

  • Words: John G. Dunn, 1985, © John G. Dunn
  • Music (WAS GOTT TUT 8.7.8.7.8.8.7): Severus Gastorius, 1681; P.D.
  • Reprint Information:
    • Words: please contact John G. Dunn
    • Music: The Music is in Public Domain; you do not need permission to reprint this music.

136G: Give Thanks unto the Lord

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1090 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.
  • For more performance notes and optional percussion accompaniments for this song, see the book Halle, Halle: We Sing the World Round’s teacher’s edition that is written by C. Michael Hawn and published by Choristers Guild.

Other Resources:

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

Copyright Information:

  • Words: Psalm 136; traditional Swahili; Mwalimu Glenn T. Boyd; tr. C. Michael Hawn, from Four African Hymns © 1994 Choristers Guild
  • Music (KIHAYA): Kihaya melody; arr. Mwalimu Glenn T. Boyd and J. Nathan Corbitt from Four African Hymns © 1994 Choristers Guild
  • Reprint Information:

136H: O Give Thanks to the LORD

Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1090 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.

Other Resources:

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

Copyright Information:

  • Words and Music: Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra © 2011 Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra, admin. Faith Alive Christian Resources
  • Reprint Information: