That Stone Is Made Head Corner Stone

psalm118

“THAT STONE IS MADE HEAD CORNERSTONE” (PSALM 118)

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner” (Ps. 118:22)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which discusses the results of having the stone which the builders refused become the head cornerstone is “That Stone Is Made Head Corner Stone” or “Psalm 118” (#644 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text is a metrical arrangement of Psalm 118:22-29.  It is evidently based on a version taken from the Scottish Psalter and Paraphrases‎ of 1800.

  1. That stone is made head corner-stone,

Which builders did despise:

This is the doing of the Lord,

And wondrous in our eyes.

  1. This is the day God made, in it

We’ll joy triumphantly.

Save now, I pray thee, Lord; I pray,

Send now prosperity.

  1. Blessed is He in God’s great name

That cometh us to save:

We, from the house which to the Lord

Pertains, you blessed have.

  1. God is the Lord, who unto us

Hath made light to arise:

Bind ye unto the altar’s horns

With cords the sacrifice.

  1. Thou art my God, I’ll Thee exalt;

My God, I will Thee praise.

Give thanks to God, for He is good:

His mercy lasts always.

A similar arrangement was used in The Psalter published in 1912 by the United Presbyterian Board of Publication of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The version found in HFWR came from The Book of Psalms for Singing published in 1973 by The Board of Education and Publication of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America at Pittsburgh, PA.  The particular number from which it is taken actually begins with Ps. 118:17 and contains eight stanzas.  The omitted stanzas are:

  1. I shall not die, but live and tell

Jehovah’s power to save;

The Lord has sorely chastened me,

But spared me from the grave.

  1. O set ye open unto me

The gates of righteousness;

Then will I enter into them

And I the Lord will bless.

  1. This is Jehovah’s gate, by it

The just shall enter in.

I’ll praise Thee who has heard my prayer

And hast my safety been.

From The Book of Psalms for Singing, the text, with four stanzas (nos. 1, 2, 3, and 5 below), was used in Selected Psalms for Church Singing edited by Edward Fudge and originally published in 1974 by the C. E. I.  Publishing Company of Athens, AL.  From there, the same four stanzas passed into the original editions of Hymns for Worship with words only.  Hymns for Worship Revised, using only stanzas 1, 2, and 5, added music. The Book of Psalms for Worship published in 2010 by Crown and Covenant Publications for The Board of Education and Publication of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America at Pittsburgh, PA, has an updated version of the same section of Ps. 118 in seven stanzas beginning with verse 19.

Selected Psalms for Church Singing set the psalm to a tune (St. Anne) attributed to William Croft which is most commonly associated with the hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” by Isaac Watts.  The 1986 printing of Hymns for Worship suggests using the Croft tune as well.  However, the 1994 printing suggests another tune (Azmon) composed by Carl Glaser and most often identified with “I’m Not Ashamed to Own My Lord” also by Isaac Watts.   Hymns for Worship Revised then set it to the Glaser tune.  Both The Book of Psalms for Singing and The Book of Psalms for Worship have a tune (Jackson) which was composed by Thomas Jackson, who was born c. 1715. Little is known of his early career.  An organist and composer of obscure origin, he was elected to the Royal Society of Musicians in 1739, and he had become a member of the king’s band by 1767. In April 1768 he was appointed organist and master of the song school at Newark, England, where he served from 1768 to 1781. His works include A Favorite Lesson for the Harpsichord c. 1778, and Twelve Psalm Tunes and Eighteen Chants, published around 1780, in which this tune first appeared. He died in office at Newark and was buried on Nov. 11, 1781.

The song expresses praise to God for giving us the head cornerstone.

I. Stanza 1 helps to give the identity of the head cornerstone
That stone is made head corner stone
Which builders did despise.
This is the doing of the Lord,
And wondrous in our eyes.
A. The Lord Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone: 1 Pet. 2:3-8
B. He is the one whom the builders despised or rejected: Matt. 21:42
C. This is the Lord’s doing because He prophesied it: Isa. 28:16
II. Stanza 2 helps to specify the day when this one became the head cornerstone
This is the day the Lord hath made;
Let us be glad and sing.
Hosanna, Lord! O give success!
O Lord, salvation bring!
A. People often quote Ps. 118:24 as a motto for every day, but the Lord had a specific day in mind, and Peter associates it with the resurrection of Jesus: Acts 4:8-12
B. Jesus arose on the first day of the week to bring salvation: Mk. 16:9
C. Thus, the first day of the week is a special day for Christians to be glad and sing: Acts 20:7
III. Stanza 3 identifies from whence came the head cornerstone
O blessed be the one who comes,
Comes in Jehovah’s name!
The blessing of Jehovah’s house
Upon You we proclaim.
A. Jesus is the blessed one who came: Matt. 21:9
B. He came in Jehovah’s name: Matt. 23:39
C. He came from Jehovah to establish the Lord’s house or church: 1 Tim. 3:15
IV. Stanza 4 explains what happened when the head cornerstone arose
The Lord is God, and He to us
Has made the light arise;
O bind ye to the altar’s horns
With cords the sacrifice.
A. The resurrection declares Jesus to be the Son of God: Rom. 1:3-4
B. As such He made light to arise: 2 Pet. 1:16-19
C. This is because He is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins: Heb. 9:11-15
V. Stanza 5 offers God thanks for the head cornerstone
Thou art my God; I’ll give Thee thanks.
My God, I’ll worship Thee.
O thank the Lord for He is good;
His grace will endless be.
A. We should be thankful for what God has done for in Christ: 2 Cor. 9:15
B. This should motivate us to worship Him in spirit and truth: Jn. 4:24
C. All of this is possible because of His endless grace: Tit. 2:11

CONCL.:  Here is the “updated” version from The Book of Psalms for Worship.

  1. That stone is now the cornerstone

That builders once despised.

This is the doing of the LORD,

And wondrous in our eyes.

  1. This is the day the LORD has made;

Let us be glad and sing.

Hosanna, LORD! O give success!

O LORD, salvation bring!

  1. O blessed is the one who comes,

Comes in the LORD’s great name.

A blessing from the LORD’s own house

Upon you we proclaim.

  1. The LORD is God and He to us

Has made the light arise.

With cords bind to the altar’s horns

The festal sacrifice.

  1. You are my God, I’ll give You thanks;

My God, I’ll give you praise.

O thank the LORD, for He is good;

His love lasts endless days.

Surely we ought to extend our gratitude to God for all the benefits that come to us because “That Stone Is Made Head Corner Stone.”

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