OPENING COMMENT: Vv. 7-9 of the psalm (st. 5-6 in Setting B, the last third of st. 2 in Setting A) strike many of us as gruesome and barbaric. I am sure this is one of those texts John Wesley would have agreed is not suitable to be read in public worship. In light of the 2001 attacks on the United States, these verses are even more sobering. They indeed may express the feelings of many people. There will be some who decide to use only the first six verses of the psalm. If you do use vv. 7-9, I would strongly suggest preaching on this text. It is indeed appropriate to express our feelings of rage. It is not appropriate to act on them in destructive ways. --DAS
METER: 15 15 15 6 16 14
TUNE: BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
1. By the Bab-y-lon-ian wa-ters, there we sat down and we wept,
As our mem-ories turned to Zi-on, on the wil-lows hung our lyres.
For our cap-tors forced us to sing, and tor-men-tors want-ed mirth:
"Sing one of Zi-on's songs!"
How shall we sing songs of Yah-weh ex-iled in a for-eign coun-try?
If I for-get you, Je-rus-'lem, let my right hand shrink away.
2. Let my tongue stick to my pal-ate if I don't re-mem-ber you,
If I do not set Je-rus-'lem over ev-ery other joy!
Lord, re-mem-ber a-gainst E-dom what they cried at Zi-on's fall,
"Tear it down to the ground!"
Bab-y-lon, you dev-a-sta-tor! Hap-py those who do you ven-geance.
Hap-py those who take your child-ren and smash them on the rocks.
Copyright 2004 Dale A. Schoening.
METER: 87 87
SUGGESTED TUNES: CHARLESTOWN or GALILEE
This is the meter of such hymns as "Cross of Jesus, Cross of Sorrow" and "Jesus Calls Us O'er the Tumult"
1. By the Bab-y-lon-ian wa-ters,
There we sat down and we wept,
As our mem-ories turned to Zi-on,
On the wil-lows hung our lyres.
2. For our cap-tors forced us to sing,
And tor-ment-ors want-ed mirth,
So they all de-mand-ed of us,
"Sing us one of Zi-on's songs!"
3. How shall we sing songs of Yah-weh
Ex-iled in a for-eign land?
If I for-get you, Je-rus-'lem,
Let my right hand shrink away.
4. Let my tongue cleave to my pal-ate,
If I don't re-mem-ber you,
If I do not set Je-rus-'lem
A-bove ev-ery oth-er joy!
5. Lord, re-mem-ber a-gainst E-dom
What they did at Zi-on's fall,
How they cried out, "Raze it, raze it,
Tear it clear down to the ground!"
6. Bab-y-lon, you dev-a-sta-tor!
Hap-py those who pay you back.
Hap-py those who take your child-ren
And smash them a-gainst a rock.
Stanzas 1-4 reprinted by permission of the publisher from Sing the Psalms! by Dale A. Schoening. Copyright 1988 Dale A. Schoening. Stnazas 5-6 reprinted by permission of the publisher from Supplementary Volume to Sing the Psalms by Dale A. Schoening. Copyright 1992 Dale A. Schoening.