Praise Waits for Thee in Zion

Joint Committee on a Uniform Version, 1909
Based on Psalm 65
Addressed to God
Praise waits for thee in Zion;Ps. 65:1–2
   all men shall worship therePs. 86:9; Is. 2:3; Jer. 3:17
and pay their vows before thee,Ps. 22:25; Is. 19:21
   O God who hearest prayer.Ps. 145:18–19; Prov. 15:29
Our sins rise up against us,Ps. 65:3; 38:4; 40:12; Ezra 9:6
   prevailing day by day,Gen. 6:5; Heb. 10:11
but thou wilt show us mercy
   and take their guilt away.Jer. 33:8
How blest the man thou callestPs. 65:4
   and bringest near to thee,Num. 16:5; Ps. 73:28
that in thy courts foreverPs. 84:10
   his dwelling-place may be;Ps. 23:6; 27:4; 84:4; Luke 2:37
he shall within thy temple
   be satisfied with grace,Heb. 13:9
and filled with all the goodnessPs. 107:7–9
   of thy most holy place.Ex. 26:34; Ezek. 41:4
O God of our salvation,Ps. 65:5; 1 Chr. 16:35
   since thou dost love the right,Ps. 11:7; 33:5
thou wilt an answer send usEx. 3:20
   in wondrous deeds of might.
In all earth’s habitations,
   on all the boundless sea,
man finds no sure reliance,
   no peace, apart from thee.Gen. 4:11–16; Eccl. 2:25
Thy might sets fast the mountains;Ps. 65:6
   strength girds thee evermorePs. 93:1
to calm the raging peoplesPs. 65:7; Is. 17:13
   and still the ocean’s roar.Ps. 89:9; 107:29
Thy majesty and greatnessPs. 65:8
   are through all lands confessed,Ezek. 38:23
and joy on earth thou sendestIs. 48:20
   afar from east to west.
To bless the earth thou sendestPs. 65:9–10; Acts 14:17
   from thine abundant storePs. 68:9
the waters of the springtime,Jer. 5:24
   enriching it once more.Ps. 147:8
The seed by thee provided2 Cor. 9:10
   is sown o’er hill and plain,
and thou with gentle showersDeut. 32:2
   dost bless the springtime grain.
The year with good thou crownest,Ps. 65:11
   the earth thy mercy fills,Ps. 119:64
the wilderness is fruitful,Ps. 65:12; Job 38:26–27; Joel 2:22
   and joyful are the hills;Ps. 98:8
with corn the vales are covered,Ps. 65:13
   the flocks in pastures graze;Is. 30:23
all nature joins in singingIs. 44:23
   a joyful song of praise.

This hymn declares the blessedness of those who are near to God. They are called to this blessedness and brought near by divine mercy (stanza 2, lines 1–2). The guilt of their sins being taken away (stanza 1, lines 5–8), these saved souls enjoy the presence of God, especially through frequent opportunities for public worship (stanza 1, lines 1–4, and stanza 2). By contrast, those who remain distant from God find nothing on which to rely and no peace, wheresoever they look (stanza 3, lines 5–8).

Drawing near to God gives the advantage of seeing him more clearly. This is the supreme pleasure for which we were endowed with the faculty of understanding. Scientists experiment, journalists investigate, jurists try, and all find satisfaction in discovering fragments of truth. But how much deeper—and more delightful—the satisfaction in personally knowing the Creator of the things we study, in knowing the Lord who benevolently wields them, like tools in his hands, for his own glory. Those who draw near to God do not merely study; they converse with Truth, with him who hears prayer (stanza 1, line 4) and sends an answer “in wondrous deeds of might” (stanza 3, line 4). And through this conversation they discover the whole truth: that the phenomena around them—from the mountains to the corn—do more than merely exist. They sing “a joyful song of praise” (stanza 6, line 8).

Thus the hymn gradually turns our focus away from its initial, human subject matter and toward God and his wondrous deeds, because such contemplation is the goal of our drawing near to him. He who fastens mountains, so that they seem to us the most stable things on earth (stanza 4, line 1), has no difficulty calming mere humanity, as joy spreads as far as the sun reaches (lines 3 and 5–8). He it is who turns the roaring waters of the ocean (line 4) into the gentle showers of spring (stanza 5). The comparison of seasons in the last two stanzas completes the picture by demonstrating divine glory even in the earth’s revolution around the sun. One of David’s most exquisite metaphors introduces the last stanza, alluding to harvest as the goodness with which God “crowns” the year.


Despite a large range, NYLAND settles easily on the voice. The first line of the stanza assumes a comfortable, folklike shape (it’s pentatonic, meaning it contains neither “fa” nor “ti”), and subsequent lines combine leaping pickups with otherwise entirely stepwise motion. The octave skip between lines 1 and 2 of the stanza is easier than it looks, because we are simply returning at the beginning of line 2 to where we started at the beginning of line 1. A strange half cadence at the end of line 2 generates more than the usual desire for melodic repetition: we have to sing the opening melody again to see where it leads next, and the melody of line 4 (rather than building momentum through repetition, as in a bar form) provides an answer to line 2 in a structure that complements the relation between these lines in most stanzas of the poem (for example, the relation between men’s worship and God’s hearing, in stanza 1). The tune, having followed the opening melody to a stable destination in measure 8, turns naturally to contrasting material in line 5 (measures 9–10). Line 6 reaches a standard half cadence (more virile than the one in line 2) so that lines 5–8 collectively answer lines 1–4 just as, on a smaller scale, line 4 answered line 2. The return to the opening melody in line 7 is very gratifying, and then line 8 synthesizes lines 2 and 4 by combining the first note of the former with all the other notes of the latter.