Give Thanks to God for All His Goodness


Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1088 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.
  • The following article is by Joan Ringerwole from Reformed Worship.

Psalm 118 is the appointed lectionary psalm for Easter Sunday, and no wonder. Stanley Wiersma, who versified Psalm 118 for the 1987 Psalter Hymnal, earlier wrote a delightful poem reminiscing on the Dutch tradition of singing Psalm 118 on Easter Sunday mornings—especially the verse that started "De steen die door de templebouzvers . . ." ("The stone the builders had rejected is now the foremost cornerstone").

As a young organist in 1946, Wiersma was more interested in having the congregation sing "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" to begin the service, but his minister objected:

De steen die door de templebouwers is five centuries earlier than the first Easter, Jesus himself quoted the psalm to predict his resurrection, Paul and Peter both identify the stone of this psalm as Christ, the Old Testament Easter lesson in the medieval church was this psalm, John Calvin started all festive services with this psalm, and all Dutch Easter services since the Reformation have begun with "De steen die door de templebouwers."

[From Purpaleanie and Other Permutations, by Sietze Buning (pen name of Stanley Wiersnia), Middleburg Press, Box 166, Orange City, IA 5L041]

This psalm was a festal procession sung by the Israelites as the final psalm in the "Hallel," the group of "Hallelujah" psalms sung during Jewish liturgy at the great religious festivals. Because Psalm 118 is structured antiphonally, each time "His love forever is the same" or the equivalent phrase on each verse occurs, it could be sung or played by a different group of people. Sometimes I play that phrase on a different manual to highlight the antiphonal character of the text.

The tune for Psalm 118 is more often associated with Psalm 98. Indeed, in the Genevan Psalter that tune was used for three psalms: 66,98, and 118. But 118 was the original association, set to Clement Marot's versification of Psalm 118 in Calvin's Genevan Psalter of 1543. The first three words of the French text are often given as a tune title: "Rendez a Dieu louange et gloire." The harmony here is the original Goudimel bass line; however, the melody was originally in the tenor, so the other parts have been adjusted to place the melody in the soprano.

Organists may appreciate the following easy compositions based on RENDEZ ADIEU:

-"Intonatie Psalm 98 (66, 118)" by Willem van Twillert (from Muziek voor de Eredienst, published by Ars Nova [1385002], Oranje Nassaulaan 25-1075 AJ Amsterdam).

-"Bread of the World" by Henry Coleman (from Twenty-four Interludes Based on Communion Hymn Tunes).

-"Father, We thank Thee" by Richard Peek (from Hymn Preludes for the Church Year).

Text Information:

Praising God for delivering the people when they were attacked by many nations and for making “the stone the builders rejected” the foremost cornerstone.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-4
st. 2 = vv. 5-14
st. 3 = vv. 15-21
st. 4 = vv. 22-25
st. 5 = vv. 26-29

The last of eight "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), 118 is a hymn of thanksgiving for deliverance from enemies. It presupposes a triumphal procession into the city and the temple of God. Psalm 118 praises God for unfailing love (st. 1) and for deliverance from many enemies (st. 2). In praise to God for bringing victory, the king leads a triumphal entry into God's presence (st. 3); the people celebrate "the day" in which God has set up his corner¬stone–the stone the builders had rejected (st. 4). The people praise and joyfully salute the anointed one, "who comes triumphant in God's name." A final call to praise and thank the LORD for unfailing love echoes the psalm's opening statement (st. 5).

Psalm 118 closes the "Egyptian Hallel" used in Jewish liturgies for the annual religious festivals prescribed in the Torah. At Passover, Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before the meal; 115 through 118 were sung after the meal. As the last song in that liturgy, 118 may have been the hymn sung by Jesus and his disciples at the end of the Last Supper (Matt. 26:30). Jesus applied verse 22 ("the stone the builders rejected") to himself in Matthew 21:42 and Mark 12:10 (see also Acts 4:11).

Stanley Wiersma versified this psalm in 1982 for the Psalter Hymnal; he took the refrain from verses 1 through 4 and made it the final line of each stanza. Other settings of Psalm 118 are at 179 and 241.

Liturgical Use:
Times of thanksgiving; Palm Sunday and Easter processionals; many other occasions in Christian worship.

Tune Information:

GENEVAN 98/118 is the one tune in the Psalter Hymnal used for two psalms. It was first published in the 1551 Genevan Psalter as a setting for Psalm 118; in the 1562 edition it was also set to Psalm 98 (hence both numbers in the tune name). The tune is also often named RENDEZ A DIEV, the French incipit for Psalm 118.

This beloved tune is one of the finest and most widely sung of the Genevan psalm tunes (next to GENEVAN 134). Its clear melodic structure and vibrant rhythm call for firm accompaniment with bright organ registration, though some congregations may want to try unaccompanied singing on a stanza or two in the tradition of the sixteenth-century Reformers.

Many modern hymnals set this tune to versifications of Psalm 98 or to hymn texts such as the one at 314. The 1564 harmonization here by Claude Goudimel originally placed the melody in the tenor. See 98 and 314 for other harmonizations of this tune; 314 is placed in the key of F.

 Other Resources:

  • Visit for more information on this song and additional resources.
  • Buy a recording of this song as part of the recording "Cry Out to God!" by The Choral Scholars from iTunes.
  • The following is an alternative accompaniment for this tune, GENEVAN 98/118/RENDEZ Á DIEU.

Alternative Harmonization for Organ and Descant Resources:

  • Proulx, Richard. Hymn Intonations Preludes & Free Harmonizations. Vol. I Selah 160-720 [1991]
Psalm 118
Song Number: 
Projection and Reprint Information: 
  • Words: Permitted with a license from or from If you do not own one of these licenses, please contact the copyright holder for permission.
  • Music: The Music is in the Public Domain; you do not need permission to project or reprint the Music.