Why do the heathen nations vainly rage?

I’ve already written a review of the Everlasting Word Band’s album Rise Up, O Just One, but I wanted to expand on one of the best songs from that album: Why do the heathen nations vainly rage?

The song is based on Psalm 2. Here is that psalm in the King James Version:

Why do the heathen rage,
and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder,
and cast away their cords from us.

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:
the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath,
and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me,
Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,
and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings:
be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way,
when his wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

For four-part harmony

The text as it appears in the Cantus Christi hymnal for four-part harmony is as follows:

Why do the heathen nations vainly rage?
What prideful schemes are they in vain devising?
The kings of earth and rulers all engage
In evil thoughts and in their sin contriving.
They take their stand against our God’s Messiah,
They claim they will not keep His binding chains;
The Lord enthroned in highest heaven, higher,
Mocks them to scorn, on them derision rains.

He speaks to them in righteous holy wrath;
God vexes them and shows His great displeasure.
“Yet have I set My king upon a path
That upward winds to Zion, my own treasure.
You are my Son, today You are begotten,”
I will declare what God has said to me,
“And not one tribe will ever be forgotten;
You will receive the world, just ask of Me.

“The nations come, You are the only heir,
The ends of earth will be Your own possession;
And, broken with a rod of iron there,
Rebellious pottery comes to destruction.”
Now serve the Lord with fear and gladness trembling,
And, therefore, O ye kings, seek wisdom here:
How blessed are those who trust without dissembling,
Who kiss the Son and bow in reverent fear.

Here’s what the harmony sounds like for that:

Imagine singing that in church!


Now, here’s the metal version by the Everlasting Word Band (you have to crank it up)

They capture the essence of the psalm well, don’t they?


Singing of such themes as Psalm 2 contains has been largely lost from the church in our day, but one day these themes will return, because they are an important part of worshiping our Lord and King. I look forward eagerly to that day–for truly,

How blessed are those who trust without dissembling,
Who kiss the Son and bow in reverent fear.


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