Tuesday Hymns: “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” (Psalm 2)

Presbyterians have a long history of singing the Psalms, and Crown and Covenant Publishers has blessed the church with a great resource entitled, The Book of Psalms for Worship. Since Hebrew poetry is characterized by parallelism more than meter and rhyme, the genius of the Protestant Reformation was “to translate the Psalms into modern poetry and sing them to the same types of tunes that people were accustomed to singing elsewhere—that is, in stanzas and lines of predictable length and with a regular rhythmic organization, or meter. (Hence, the term metrical.)” (“The Experience of Singing the Psalms” in The Book of Psalms for Worship, pg. xii.) The aforementioned book is filled with metrical Psalms which are easily sung by the people of God in corporate worship.

One example is our Tuesday Hymn of the Week, “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” which is a metrical version of the Second Psalm. The Psalm speaks of man’s futile rebellion against God, God’s declaring of His Son as the “Heir to earth and nations all,” and the good news (Gospel) that “blessed are all who in Him hide.” This version is sung to the tune, ABERYSTWYTH.

Why do Gentile nations rage,
And their useless plots design?
Kings of earth in schemes engage,
Rulers are in league combined.
They speak out against the LORD;
His Messiah they defy:
“Let us break their chains and cords,
Let us cast them off,” they cry.

He who sits in heaven laughs,
For the Lord views them with scorn.
He will speak to them in wrath,
And in anger He will warn:
“Yet according to My will,
I have set My King to reign;
And on Zion’s holy hill,
My Anointed will remain.”

“I the LORD’s decree make known;
This is what He had to say:
He declared, ‘You are My Son;
I have brought You forth this day.
Ask of Me and You I’ll make
Heir to earth and nations all.
Them with iron rod You’ll break,
Smashing them in pieces small.’”

Therefore kings now heed this word:
Earthly judges, come and hear.
Rev’rent worship give the LORD;
With your joy mix trembling fear.
Honor Him, His wrath to turn,
Lest you perish in your stride,
For His anger soon may burn.
Blessed are all who in Him hide.