- The following article is from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.
A communal prayer requesting God's forgiveness and the full experience of his saving love and faithfulness.
st. 1 = vv. 1-3
st. 2 = vv. 4-7
st. 3 = vv. 8-9
st. 4 = vv. 10-13
In a time of distress after being restored from captivity, the people of God pray for a renewal of God's mercies. If the restoration referred to is Israel's return from Babylon, the troubles are probably those alluded to in Nehemiah and Malachi–verse 12 suggests a severe drought. As you have pardoned and restored us before, prays the psalmist, show us your grace once more (st. 1). Forgive, revive, and bless us in your mercy, O God (st. 2). Surely the LORD's salvation is near and unfailing (st. 3). God's love and faithfulness and righteousness and peace all come together in God's grace (st. 4). The beautiful imagery of love and faithfulness meeting together while "righteousness and peace kiss each other" (v. 10) has made Psalm 85 a favorite for God's people everywhere. Marie J. Post versified this psalm in 1985 for the Psalter Hymnal.
A favorite in traditional Christian liturgies for the Advent season; many other occasions.
The setting here is by John B. Dykes, originally composed as a setting for William Whiting's "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." Published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) with that text, MELITA is often referred to as the "navy hymn." The tune is named after the island of Malta where Paul was shipwrecked.
A fine tune, MELITA is marked by good use of melodic sequences and a harmony that features several dominant sevenths (both are Dykes's trademarks). Sing in harmony; because the lines flow into each other in almost breathless fashion, use a stately tempo.
- Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.
- The following are alternative accompaniments for this tune, MELITA
Alternative Harmonization for Organ and Descant Resources:
- Archer, Malcolm. After the Last Verse. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0 86209 502 6 
- Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 
- Mawby, Colin. Hymns for Occasions. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0-86209-568-9 
- Noble, T. Tertius. Free Organ Accompaniments to One Hundred Well-Known Hymn Tunes. J. Fischer 8175 
- Rawsthorne, Noel. 200 Last Verses. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0 86209 189 6 
- Wyton, Alec. New Shoots from Old Roots. SMP KK 279 
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
- Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 
- Maynard, Lynette. Let It Rip! At the Piano. vol. 2 Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0