Psalm 124.8 Our Help is in the Name of the Lord

Psalm 124 for Stained Glass at Assy 1956-1957, Marc Chagall

Evidently this was John Calvin’s favorite verse in scripture.  He thought it was so fundamental to understanding our relationship with God that he used it to begin all of his services at Geneva.

Last year when our congregation was worshiping through the Psalms of Ascents (supported by a grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship) we commissioned Mark Chambers (Worship and arts director at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church in Suffolk, Va and a fine composer) to write a musical setting of Psalm 124.8 that would be appropriate for our congregation.   This is one of the verses that John Calvin strategically chose to begin his worship service every Sunday.  Often it is referred to as a ‘call to worship’ or sometimes just as ‘opening sentences.’  Either way it directs us in our approach to God in worship, which is always difficult and full of God’s pursuing grace.   If you typically use a responsive Call to Worship from the Psalms try singing one of these arrangements as a prelude or as a musical response.

HERE is John Calvin’s commentary on this verse from CCEL.

HERE is a nice description of John Calvin’s liturgy featuring Psalm 124.8.

Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old in “The Patristic Roots of Reformed Worship” has this to say,

“The liturgy of the Genevan Psalter of 1542 begins with the Invocation, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.’ Historically, this short epiclesis of the divine name is a heritage of the Roman Mass of the Middle Ages.  Theologically, it recalls the oldest forms of the Biblical tradition.  How often in the psalms we find prayer beginning with the an invocation of the divine name. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1)  The Great Hallel of the Passover liturgy also begins with the three-fold invocation of the holy name (Psalm 113:1-3).

Our Help is in the name of the Lord – Psalm 124.8 (Mark Chambers)
demo | leadsheet

Here are some other versions we have written at Christ the King

Psalm 124.8
Leadsheet for all three

demo – meditative version
demo – folk 6/8 version
demo – arr. from traditional spiritual version

6 thoughts on “Psalm 124.8 Our Help is in the Name of the Lord

Add yours

  1. Thanks for the kind words Bruce. I enjoyed writing the song for you guys. Right now it is one of the songs I have written for worship that I am most satisfied with, though I am sure that it will pass =)

    1. mark, i especially love the Taize quality of it. Looking forward to running into you this year sometime. Maybe either at IAM or the liturgy, space conf. at Covenant Seminary next year?

      1. Thanks Bruce. Yes, we certainly need to meet up. I haven’t decided if I’ll be at IAM next year or not. I’d love to just not sure the budget can take it.

  2. Love it. When I first read about how this verse opened the Geneva liturgy (maybe Strasbourg, too?), I thought, “That’s so Calvin of Calvin.” It’s a great way to open worship…whether by song or by simple reading.

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