Scripture Verse

Now may Israel say: If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick. Psalm 124:1–3

Introduction

Words: Will­iam Whitt­ing­ham, in Tho­mas Stern­hold’s 16th Cen­tu­ry Old Ver­sion.

Music: Old 124th Ge­ne­van Psal­ter, 1551 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Anecdote

The fol­low­ing is Gal­der­wood’s ac­count of the return of Dur­ie to Ed­in­burgh [Scot­land] af­ter a tem­po­ra­ry ban­ish­ment…:—

John Dur­ie com­eth to Leith at night the 3d of Sep­tem­ber. Up­on Tues­day the 4th of Sep­tem­ber, as he is com­ing to Ed­in­burgh, there met him at the Gal­low­green 200, but ere he came to the Ne­ther­bow their num­ber in­creased to 400; but they were no soon­er en­tered but they en­creased to 600 or 700, and with­in short space the whole street was re­plen­ished ev­en to Saint Geiles Kirk: the num­ber was es­teemed to 2000. At the Ne­ther­bow they took up the 124 Psalme, Now Is­ra­el may say, &c., and sung in such a plea­sant tune in four parts, known to the most part of the peo­ple, that com­ing up the street all bare­head­ed till they en­tered in the Kirk, with such a great sound and ma­jes­tic, that it moved both them­selves and all the huge mul­ti­tude of the be­hold­ers, look­ing out at the shots and ov­er stairs, with ad­mi­ra­tion and as­ton­ish­ment: the Duke him­self be­held, and reave his beard for an­ger: he was more af­irayed of this sight than an­ie thing that ever he had seene be­fore in Scot­land. When they came to the kirk, Mr James Low­sone made a short ex­hor­ta­tion in the Read­er’s place, to move the mul­ti­tude to thank­ful­nes. There­af­ter a psalm be­ing sung, they de­part­ed with great joy.

Melvill des­cribes the oc­cur­rence thus—

Going upe the streit with bear heads and loud voic­es, sang to the praise of God and tes­ti­fe­ing of grait joy and con­so­la­tion, * * * till hea­vin and erthe re­sound­it. This noyes when the Duc, be­ing in the town, hard, and lud­git in the Hie-gat, luiked out and saw, he rave his berde for an­ger, and hast­ed him af the town.

Neil Liv­ing­ston, The Scot­tish Me­tric Psal­ter of 1635 (Glas­gow, Scot­land, 1864), p. 17

Lyrics

Now Israel may say, and that in truth,
If that the Lord had not our right maintained,
If that the Lord had not with us remained,
When cruel men against us rose to strive,
We surely had been swallowed up alive.

Yea, when their wrath against us fiercely rose,
The swelling tide had o’er us spread its wave,
The raging stream had then become our grave,
The surging flood, in proudly swelling roll,
Most surely then had overwhelmed our soul.

Blest be the Lord, who made us not their prey;
As from the snare a bird escapeth free,
Their net is rent and so escaped are we;
Our only help is in Jehovah’s name,
Who made the earth and all the heavenly frame.