Psalm 136

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Psalm 136
Grave of Eliza Foster (Cimitero di Bergamo) 05.jpg
Grave of Eliza Foster in the Cimitero di Bergamo, with the engraved words of Psalm 136:3
BookBook of Psalms
Hebrew Bible partKetuvim
Order in the Hebrew part1
CategorySifrei Emet
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part19

Psalm 136 is the 136th psalm of the biblical Book of Psalms. It is sometimes referred to as "The Great Hallel".[1] The Jerusalem Bible calls it a "Litany of Thanksgiving".[2] It is notable for the refrain which forms the second half of each verse,[3] translated as "For His mercy endures forever" in the New King James Version,[4] or "for his steadfast love endures for ever" in the Revised Standard Version.[5]

In the slightly different numbering system used in the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible, and in the Latin Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 135.


The psalm is arranged in well marked groups of three verses to the end of verse 18, after which follow two groups of four verses.[3]



The term Great Hallel (Hallel HaGadol), meaning "great praise", is used to refer to Psalm 136. It is called "great" to differentiate it from the Egyptian Hallel, another prayer of praise comprising psalms 113 to 118.[6] In the Talmud, opinions vary whether Great Hallel includes only Psalm 136, or else chapters 135-136, or else chapters 134-136;[7] the accepted opinion is that it only includes 136.[8]

Verse 1,

[They] worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,
"For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever"

was recited at Solomon's dedication of the Temple;[16] Charles Spurgeon suggests that the whole psalm was sung.[17]

Eastern Orthodox[edit]

  • Along with Psalm 135 (LXX numbers as 134 and 135 respectively) this psalm is called the Polyeleos or translated to "Many Mercies", named such after the refrain used "for His mercy endures forever". The Polyeleos is sung at Orthros (Matins) of a Feast Day and at Vigils. In some Slavic traditions and on Mount Athos it is read every Sunday at Orthros.
  • On Mount Athos, it is considered one of the most joyful periods of Matins-Liturgy, and the highest point of Matins. In Athonite practice, all the candles are lit, and the chandeliers are made to swing as the Psalms are sung, it is also accompanied by a joyful peal of the bells and censing of the church, sometimes with a hand censer which has many bells on it.
  • At vigils, it accompanies the opening of the Royal Doors and a great censing of the nave by the Priest(s) or Deacon(s).

Coptic Orthodox[edit]

This Psalm is chanted as the second Canticle or the second Hoos of the Midnight Praises known as Tasbeha, a nightly prayer practiced in Coptic Orthodox Churches and Monasteries.


John Milton wrote an English paraphrase of Psalm 136 among his poems of 1645.[18]

Musical Settings[edit]

Verses 1-15 were set by Roxanna Panufnik as "Love Endureth" in 2012. "Forever", written by Chris Tomlin in 2001, also draws heavily on this psalm for its lyrics.


  1. ^ Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov by Yitzhak Buxbaum, page 399
  2. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966), Sub-title to Psalm 136
  3. ^ a b c Kirkpatrick, A., Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Psalm 136, accessed 22 June 2022
  4. ^ Psalm 136: NKJV
  5. ^ Psalm 136: RSV
  6. ^ "הלל המצרי והלל הגדול בליל הסדר | בית המדרש | שיעורי תורה". אתר ישיבה.
  7. ^ Pesachim 118a
  8. ^ Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 480:1
  9. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, page 384
  10. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim, page 329
  11. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, page 195
  12. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, page 759
  13. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, page 20
  14. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, page 88
  15. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, page 185
  16. ^ 2 Chronicles 7:3
  17. ^ Spurgeon, C., Treasury of David - Psalm 136, accessed 25 February 2021
  18. ^ Milton, John (2003). Orgel, Stephen; Goldberg, Jonathan (eds.). The Major Works. Oxford world's classics (illustrated, reprint ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 11–13. ISBN 978-0192804099.

External links[edit]