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Hymn of the month: "Peoples, clap your hands".

The psalms have always been a fundamental part of worship. The psalmist speaks to our hearts with the full range of human emotion: joy and sadness, praise and lament. Reformation churches laid special claim to the psalms and, for a considerable time, the only musical responses in worship were the settings of the psalms. Metrical psalms have the text of the psalm poetically set to a regular metre.

"Peoples, Clap Your Hands" presents a blend of old and new. The tune is an old Genevan psalm tune attributed to Louis Bourgeois of the 16th century, and the text is a new paraphrase of Psalm 47 by Joy Patterson of the 20th century. The tune name, Genevan 47, comes from the psalm to which it was set in the Genevan psalter of 1551. John Calvin was a minister in Geneva at that time.

Joy Patterson was born in the United States and became a Presbyterian at the age of 12. She was always interested in writing poetry and turned to writing hymns in her 20s. An elder in her church, she served on the Advisory Council on Discipleship and Worship of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for five years. She was also a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Hymnal Committee which produced a revised hymn-book in 1990. She has written texts for some 30 hymns and has composed a number of hymn tunes.

It might seem odd to pair a new text with an old tune, but the moods of the two go well together. Indeed, a good way to learn the rhythm of the Genevan tune is to "clap" it. Take some time, either before the service or during a teaching time in the service, to learn this rhythm: long - long - short - short - short - long - short - short - short - long.

It takes some practice. The long beat in the middle catches you by surprise. Once you have learned this, you will notice this same rhythm is repeated in each of the six lines of the tune. Next, learn the melody, keeping in mind the dancelike rhythm you have already learned.

Have some fun with it as you clap your hands and shout to God with joy. "Now with psalms rejoice!"

Judee Archer Green is an associate secretary, Education for Discipleship, and a member of the task force to revise the Book of Praise.

Peoples, Clap Your Hands

Tune: Genevan 47

Peoples, clap your hands! Shout to God with joy!

King of all the earth is the Lord Most High:

all humanity stands in awe of God.

With a mighty hand God brings nations low,

and beneath our feet casts down every foe;

our inheritance comes from God the Lord.

God ascends the throne with a joyful cry,

and with trumpet sound has gone up on high;

sing your praise to God, sing with joyful voice!

Rulers, peoples, now join to serve the Lord,

for earth's mighty ones all belong to God,

who exalted reigns; now with psalms rejoice!

Words: Psalm 47, paraphrased by Joy F. Patterson (1931-); tune by Louis Bourgeois (c. 1510-c.1561), arrangement by Claude Goudimel (c. 1505-1572). Reprinted by permission.
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Author:Green, Judee A.
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:May 1, 1997
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