Dwight Armstrong's Work
8/1/99 - Coming Soon, a new Dwight Armstrong page, with a
full index to all of his songs.
Dwight Armstrong, brother of Herbert Armstrong, wrote many songs for use by the the
Worldwide Church of God. Now these songs form part of the heritage of the many groups that
have formed since the original organization lapsed into dispensationalism.
The words of all of Dwight Armstrong's songs
are translations, paraphrases or adaptations of scripture for singing in English. Most of
them are based on the Psalms.
Recently it has been discovered that the words
of many of Dwight's songs were either taken almost directly from metrical psalms found in
various Protestant sources, or were adapted from those sources. We do not know if
Dwight was working from the original sources of these words, or from one or more recent
hymnals which contained modernized versions of the words, but so far we have been able to
identify three of the original sources on which a more modern hymnal would have been
As we have analyzed the language and style of
the the words used in his songs it appears likely that he used similar but still
unidentified sources for a significant additional number of his songs beyond those
Some sources of the original words on which Dwight Armstrong's songs may
have been based: below are the sources we have identified, along with the songs
that came from or were adapted from those sources.
- "Old Bible"
The old "Radio Church of God" hymnal credits an "Old Bible"
as the source of the words for several of Dwight Armstrong's songs. This credit was
dropped in later hymnals, beginning with the hardcover 1974 hymnal.
It was a common practice until recently to include psalms
and hymns for singing in the back of Bibles. For example, the original Geneva Bible
published by John Calvin and the other reformers includes a copy of Sternhold and Hopkins
Psalms. Apparently Dwight's "Old Bible" contained one of thse Protestant rhymed
psalters. The actual Bible is now in the posession of Ross Jutsum, who has told us that we
may see it any time we wish to visit him in east Texas. Perhaps this "Old
Bible's" collection was taken from all of the other sources listed below.
||Thirty Seventh Psalm
("Rest in the Lord" - WCG 74) ("Wait Upon the Lord" - WCG-93)
||Mount Zion Stands Most Beautiful
||Pay All Your Vows to God Most High ("Give Thanks and Offer
||The Mighty God is My Helper ("Save
Me O God")
||O, Had I Wings Like Some Swift Dove ("Unto My Earnest Prayer Give
Note: the RCOG and 1974 WCG hymnals had 3 verses, covering verses 1-6 of the Psalm. The
1993 WCG hymnal added a fourth verse, covering verses 7-11 of the Psalm.
- The Book of Psalms for Singing (The Trinity Psalter)
Current editions published by The Board of Education and Publication, Reformed
Presbyterian Church of North America. The Trinity Psalter is a words-only version
of The Book of Psalms for Singing
- The Psalter Hymnal
The hymnal of the Chrisitan Reformed Church.
- The Psalms of David in Metre
Otherwise known as "The Scottish Metrical Psalter," or just "The
Scottish Psalter." The Scottish Psalter was first published 1650 and been printed
many times with different tunes, but the words have not been altered since its originnal
The Scottish Psalter, like all of the early
Protestant psalters, translated the entire text of every Psalm. Great care was taken to
ensure that the text followed the original Hebrew as closely as possible. This care, plus
the "King James" style English employed in the Psalter explains why some of the
psalms seem so much like scripture itself.
Comparisons of Dwight's words with the Scottish
psalter show almost no departures from the Scottish wording in some cases and significant
departures in other cases. The Scottish Psalter is held in greatest esteem by most people
who know its history and reputation. Virtually all hymnals which draw on its words use
them as they appeared in the original, without alteration, and with careful attribution to
the original source. It seems odd that the source of these words was never aknowledged. We
urge that any future publication of these songs give proper aknowledgement to the highly
exteemed Protestant source from which their words are drawn.
Interestingly, the original Radio Church of God
hymnal contained several songs with words drawn from the Scottish Psalter and tunes by
other composers. (Psalms 23, 46, 103,130) In these cases, the Scottish Psalter was
aknowledged as the source of the words in the RCOG hymnal, but not when the same songs
were used in the 1974 or 1993 WCG hymnals. (Psalms 23, 46, 130)
The following are the Dwight Armstrong songs we have
identified whose words are taken from the Scottish Psalter:
||Give Ear Unto My Words, O
||VindicateThe Justice You
||How Excellent Is Thy Name
||How Long Wilt Thou Forget Me
||The Heavens God's Glory Do
Note: this version was extensively condensed, but is still identifiable as being based on
the Scottish version. Most of the parallelism (the main characteristic of the Hebrew
poetry) was lost in the process.
||To Thee I Lift My Soul
(First - short metre version, verses 1-7)
||Our God is Good and Upright
(First - short metre version, verses 8-14)
||Mine Eyes Upon the Lord
Continually Are Set
(First - short metre - version, verses 15-22)
||Mount Zion Stands Most
||Save Me, O God, By Thy Great
(Some modifications were made to the Scottish text.)
||Return Again, O God
(Another example of a very close match, but with some noticable changes.)
||For Even From My Youth, O
(Verses 17-22, reworked, but the approach of the Psalter remains.)
||Oh Come and Let Us Worship
||Sing Praises and Rejoice
||I'll Sing of Mercy and of
||When Israel Out of Egypt
- John Milton (click here to see more
of Milton's psalms)
Milton is best known for his vivid allegories about the fall of man, heaven and
hell. However, in his youth he set several Psalms into English metre. One of Dwight's
songs uses Milton's version of Psalm 80.
- William Kethe
William Kethe was a Scotch clergyman during the early days of the Protestant
Reformation. He was one of the translators of The Geneva Bible, he contributed
approximately 25 Psalm paraphrases to the original Geneva set of metrical Psalms. Several
of his psalm settings are also found in the Sternhold and Hopkins English psalter
that appeared in 1562. This version of Psalm 100 also appeared as an alternate version of
this Psalm in the Scottish Psalter of 1650
Here is the original Psalm version by Kethe.
"I would be most unwilling to wrong such shining lights of this
art, by obscuring their names, and arrogating anything to my self, which any ways might
derogate from them."
(Edward Millar, from his introduction to the 1635 Scottish Psalter, concerning the work of
others which he had adapted for his Psalter)
|Help Needed: If you can furnish
information about any further sources of the words that Dwight Armstrong used, please leave Feedback or send us e-mail. If you have access to a
Presbyterian hymnal or psalter from the early to mid 20th century it would be a good place
to begin your own research. We are continuing to research this as well and will update
this page as we find further information. We hope it will be helpful to learn as much as
we can about our heritage in this area.