Nations, Clap Your Hands


Performance Notes:

Text Information:

A celebration of the LORD's universal reign and its recognition by the nations of the world.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-4
st. 2 =vv. 5-7
st. 3 = vv. 8-9

Ascribed to (or assigned to) "the Sons of Korah," this celebration of the universal reign of God serves as a powerful congregational testimony to the sure triumph of God's kingdom. The psalmist calls all nations to join in the praise of this "great King" (v. 2), whose victories make his people secure in their inheritance (st. 1). God is "King of all the earth" (v. 7; st. 2), and God's universal reign draws the nobility of the nations to assemble around his throne (st. 3).

In language and theme Psalm 47 shows much affinity with Psalms 93-99. It stands between two songs (46, 48) that celebrate the security of the city of God, thus reinforcing their theme. It's likely that this psalm played a role in the temple liturgy, but its place in that liturgy is uncertain.

Cor Wm. Barendrecht originally versified this psalm in an unrhymed text in 1980; the Psalter Hymnal Revision Committee added rhyme and recast a number of lines to arrive at the current versification. Another partial setting of Psalm 47 is at 166.

Liturgical Use:
Praise occasions; especially Ascension Day (st. 2).

Tune Information:

GENEVAN 47 was first published in the 1551 edition of the Genevan Psalter, which was supervised by Louis Bourgeois; Claude Goudimel harmonized it in the tenor in 1564. Restored to its exciting original rhythms in this edition of the Psalter Hymnal, this tune could well serve as the model for what Shakespeare called "Genevan jigs." The rhythmic pattern is the same for each of the six long phrases of this major (Ionian) tune. Use a bright organ registration, and do not hesitate to try percussion; in fact, the biblical text calls for clapping.

Other Resources:

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Song Audio: 
Psalm 47
Song Number: 
Projection and Reprint Information: 
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Public Domain