Posted by: rcottrill | August 26, 2011

Let Us with a Gladsome Mind

Words: John Milton (b. Dec. 9, 1608; d. Nov. 8, 1674)
Music: Monkland, by John Antes (b. Mar. 24, 1740; d. Dec. 17, 1811)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The tune Innocents also works with the hymn, an old French melody harmonized by William H. Monk in 1850.

This old hymn was written in 1623, when Milton was fifteen years old. It is a paraphrase of Psalm 136, with the psalm’s repeated antiphonal response framed as the refrain of the song. One can picture the Levites and the people of Israel , singing this song back and forth.

Each of the 26 verses of the psalm ends with: “For His mercy endures forever.” The Hebrew word translated “mercy” is checed, including such qualities as goodness, kindness and faithfulness. It is sometimes translated “lovingkindness,” or “steadfast love.” And God’s checed for His people is unchanging and everlasting.

The incessant repetition of the psalmist’s theme certainly emphasizes that the loving care of the Lord endures forever, that we can count on it being unfailing, and steadfast. But why repeat it so often? There’s also a negative implication in the repetition–that we so often forget this wonderful truth. All of our worry and anxiety, and fleshly scheming, shows how unconvinced we are. We need this memory aid: “His mercy endures forever!”

CH-1 and 2 covers Ps. 136:1-3, which is a declaration of the utter supremacy of God over the idol gods of the nations (cf. Ps. 96:5).

Let us, with a gladsome mind,
Praise the Lord, for He is kind.

For His mercies aye endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Let us blaze His name abroad,
For of gods He is the God.

CH-3, as well as CH- 5 and 6, have to do with God’s creative power, which is described at greater length in Ps. 136:4-9. He is the Maker of all things (cf. Gen. 1:1-3; 31; Heb. 1:3).

He with all commanding might
Filled the new made world with light.

He the golden tressèd sun
Caused all day his course to run.

Th’horned moon to shine by night;
’Mid her spangled sisters bright.

CH-4 seems to give a summary of God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt, later enabling them to put down their enemies and conquer the Promised Land (Ps. 136:10-24).

He hath, with a piteous eye,
Looked upon our misery.

In stanza CH-7 we have a paraphrase of Ps. 136:25, which exalts the Lord for providing food for “all flesh” (cf. Ps. 145:15).

All things living He doth feed,
His full hand supplies their need.

As believers, we can praise the Lord because, at all times, and in all circumstances, His steadfast love is unchanging!

1) How has the Lord demonstrated His unfailing love and kindness to you, in the past week?

2) Has your church ever tried singing this hymn antiphonally? You might divide men and women, or one side of the sanctuary and the other, and echo the stanzas and the refrain back and forth.

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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