Posted by: rcottrill | June 20, 2011

Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty

Words: Joachim Neander (b. _____, 1650; d. May 31, 1680)
Music: Lobe den Herren, by William Sterndale Bennett (b. Apr. 13, 1816; d. Feb. 1, 1875)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Some hymnals entitle this hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. The English translation of Neander’s hymn was made by Catherine Winkworth. The tune name, Lobe den Herren is simply the first words of the German hymn, meaning “Praise the Lord!”

The original hymn had five stanzas (CH-1, 2, 3, 4, and 7). It is believed the other two excellent stanzas (CH-5 and 6) may be the work of Percy Dearmer, former canon of Westminster Abbey, who wrote and translated many hymns. The great hymn historian John Julian calls it “a magnificent hymn of praise to God, perhaps the finest production of its author, and of the first rank in its class.”

This great hymn of resounding praise alludes to (or draws inspiration from) many passages of Scripture, including Psalms103 and 150. The God we praise is King (or Ruler) over all He has made (Ps. 24:1-2; 47:2; 97:1; 103:19). He is the Source of our health (Ps. 103:3) and “salvation.” The latter may be thought of in terms of our eternal salvation, but it also includes temporal deliverance from harm.

That theme is taken up in CH-2, which reflects Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er hath been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Says David, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). And that thought opens CH-3 of Joachim Neader’s song. In CH-4 we’re reminded it is also God who “prospers thy work” (Ps. 1:2-3), attending our lives with “goodness and mercy” (Ps. 23:6). Oh, let us each “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, / If with His love He befriend thee”!

CH-5 and 6 were not apparently from Neader’s pen. But they are so good I want to include them. The first praises the Lord for His protection in times of danger. The second assures us of God’s care in the face of oppression and persecution.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

And how can such a marvelous hymn of praise be concluded? Surely by the singer(s) pledging to praise the Lord wholeheartedly, and by calling on all living things to bring honour and glory to God.

Mr. Neander concludes where Psalm 150 does: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! (Ps. 150:6). And “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, ‘Amen! [So be it!]’” (Ps. 106:48).

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Questions:
1) What are some things for which we can praise God, as noted and described in Psalm 145?

2) What will be the practical difference between a life filled with God’s praise, and one filled with complaints and criticism?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


Responses

  1. “Praise Ye the Lord . . . ” has long been one of my favorite hymns — because of its strong Scriptural foundations, its soul-stirring music, and the high quality of the poetry. The rhyme pattern is “A, A, B, B, A,” where in the “A” lines, the last TWO syllables rhyme — no easy linguistic accomplishment in any language, but especially where the text has been translated from the original language to another.

    These “old hymns” are truly incomparable, and I grieve that they are/have been lost to the Church today.

    • I certainly agree with your love for Neader’s hymn, and others of such high quality. However, as regards your last point, I hesitate to generalize. There are still churches where the hymn book is used regularly, and the great hymns of the faith are sung. Also, let’s pray that you and I, and the many others who love our traditional hymnody, will continue to promote them, and encourage their use. When I preach in various churches, I request hymns that relate to my message. It has a positive effect!


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