Psalm 35

35A: Litany for the Slandered

Performance Notes:

  • For notes on this litany, see page 1080 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.
  • The following article is from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 3 = Ps. 141:3, Isa. 50:4

During the difficulties of the Thirty Years' War in the late 1620s, Johann Heermann wrote the original German text (O Gott, du frommer Gott") in his Silesian home of Koben. Entitled "A Daily Prayer," the text was published in Heermann's Devoti Musica Cordis (1630). Nineteenth-century German hymnologist A. F. W. Fischer has said of this text, "It is one of the poet's most widely used and signally blessed hymns and has been not unjustly called his 'master song.' If it is somewhat 'home baked,' yet it is excellent, nourishing bread. It gives training in practical Christianity … in godly living."

Catherine Winkworth translated the text into English and published it in her Lyra Germanica (second series, 1858). Our version includes the original stanzas 1-4. The text is a prayer for a Christlike mind (st. 1), obedience to our Lord's commands (st. 2), proper speech (st. 3), and a life of patience and peace (st. 4).

Liturgical Use:
As a hymn of petition for Christian virtues either after the sermon or as part of a cycle of sung and spoken prayers; profession of faith; ordination/commissioning services.

Tune Information:

Composed by Ahasuerus Fritsch (b. Mücheln on the Geissel, near Merseburg, Germany, 1629; d. Rudolstadt, Germany, 1701), DARMSTADT first appeared in his Himmels-Lust und Welt-Unlust (1679). The melody was altered when it was published in the 1698 Darmstadt Geistreiches Gesangbuch and in several other eighteenth-century German hymnals. The tune is also known as O GOTT, DU FROMMER GOTT (named after the Heermann text) and as WAS FRAG ICH NACH DER WELT (named after an association with a text in the Darmstadt hymnal).

Fritsch grew up during the turbulent time of the Thirty Years' War, and his family was often forced to flee for their lives. He was educated at the University of Jena and later became chancellor of that university. He also served as president of the church's consistory in Rudolstadt and edited two collections of hymns.

The harmonization comes from Cantata 45 by Johann S. Bach; he also used the tune in cantatas 64, 94, and 133. This noble tune has short phrases that should be sung in four long lines; observe small fermatas at the end of each of the first two lines. Use solid organ tone to support congregational singing in unison or in parts. Keep the energy lively.

Other Resources:

  • Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.
  • The following are alternative accompaniments for the tune, DARMSTADT/O GOTT, DU FROMMER GOTT/WAS FRAG ICH NACH DER.

Alternative Harmonization for Organ and Descant Resources:

  • Cassler, G. Winston. Organ Descants for Selected Hymns. Augsburg 11-9304 [1972]
  • Rawsthorne, Noel. More Last Verses. Kevin Mayhew [1996]

Copyright Information:

  • Text: James 3:9-10 and Psalm 35 © THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • Prayer: Paul Detterman, 2011, © Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Words: Johann Heermann, 1630; tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt., P.D.
  • Music (DARMSTADT/WAS FRAG' ICH NACH DER WELT 6.7.6.7.6.6.6): Ahasuerus Fritsch, 1679; harm. Johann S. Bach (1685-1750), in Cantata 45, P.D.
  • Reprint Information:
    • Text: When reprinting the Text, please use the correct copyright line.
    • Prayer: You do not need permission to reprint the Prayer.
    • Words and Music: both are in Public Domain. You do not need permission to reprint it.