- For performance notes on this song, see page 1087 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.
- The following article is from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.
Praise of God’s faithful mercies toward his people, and prayer for God's help against threatening foreign powers.
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-4
st. 3 = v. 5
st. 4 = v. 6
st. 5 = vv. 7-9
st. 6 = vv. 10-11
st. 7 = v. 12-13
With slight modifications, Psalm 108 is made up of Psalm 57:7-11 (vv. 1-5) and Psalm 60:5-12 (vv. 6-13). Scholars are not sure what occasioned this new combination, but it may have risen out of the crisis of a new threat from foreign enemies. Through praise the psalmist expresses confidence in God (st. 1) and vows to praise the LORD among the nations for being faithful and merciful (st. 2). The psalmist proclaims God's glory above the heavens and over all the earth (st. 3), and then prays, "Save us and help us" (v. 6), O God, from the threat of our enemy (st. 4). Recalling God's commitments to parcel out the land of Canaan to the tribes of Israel (st. 5), the psalmist asks, Who will lead us in triumph if God has rejected us (st. 6)? Then comes this confession: Our only hope is God, and he will not fail us (st. 7). The versification is significantly altered from that in the 1912 Psalter.
Because this is a composite psalm, stanzas 1 through 3 can stand alone as praise for God's steadfast love. The remainder of the psalm is useful for times when the church is threatened by enemies.
ST. THOMAS is actually lines 5 through 8 of the sixteen-line tune HOLBORN, composed by Aaron Williams (b. London, England, 1731; d. London, 1776) and published in his Collection (1763, 1765) as a setting for Charles Wesley's text "Soldiers of Christ, Arise" (570). The harmonization is by Lowell Mason. Well-suited to part singing, ST. THOMAS must remain stately, with two broad beats per bar.
Williams was a singing teacher, music engraver, and clerk at the Scottish Church, London Wall. He published various church music collections, some intended for rural church choirs. Representative of his compilations are The Universal Psalmodist (1763) – published in the United States as The American Harmony (1769) – The Royal Harmony (1766), The New Universal Psalmodist (1770), and Psalmody in Miniature (1778). His Harmonia Coelestis (1775) included anthems by noted composers.
- Visit hymnary.org for more information on this song and additional resources.