Posted by: rcottrill | November 7, 2011

Praise the Saviour

Words: Thomas Kelly (b. July 13, 1769; d. May 14, 1855)
Music: Acclaim, Traditional German Melody

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: For more about Thomas Kelly and this hymn, see the Wordwise Hymns link.

Praise the Lord! That’s Halal Yah, in Hebrew (or Hallelujah); and allelouia in Greek (or Alleluia). It is the most fundamental reason for which we were created, and why God saves us–that we might be “to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12; cf. vs. 6 and 14). It is to be the occupation of our earthly lives (Heb. 13:15), as it will be our ongoing occupation in the heavenly kingdom (Rev. 19:5).

Thomas Kelly anticipates heaven in his wonderful hymn, but his focus is on the here and now. And this is one of those hymns which has such a precise logical flow, that it should not be abbreviated. Some believe that no hymn should be abbreviated–that we should always sing every stanza. But I’m not against omitting a stanza or more, depending on the situation. This hymn, however, is an exception. I encourage you to sing it all. (See the Cyber Hymnal for all the stanzas.)

CH-1) Praise the Saviour, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

CH-1 begins with the exhortation to praise the Saviour. “Who can tell how much we owe Him?” No one. Even the endless ages of eternity will not be enough to fully explore all the blessings that are ours in Christ. But not only is there a logical reason to continue praising Him; there is a warmth of affection that motivates praise from within. “Jesus is the name that charms us” (CH-2).

Further (CH-3), we exult in the changelessness of the Lord (Heb. 13:8), and in our eternal security in His love (Rom. 8:35-39). God is faithful and utterly trustworthy, but we are aware that, in ourselves, there is the tendency to stray. Therefore, we pray:

CH-4) Keep us, Lord, O keep us cleaving
To Thyself, and still believing,
Till the hour of our receiving
Promised joys with Thee.

Then comes the capstone–in phrasing that takes a bit of thinking through! If “promised joys with Thee” is what we look forward to, it’s understandable that we, like Paul, should look forward with joyful anticipation to being ushered into the presence of the Lord, “having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). Whether by death, or by the imminent rapture of the church…

CH-5) Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be,
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.

1) What are some ways to praise God, other than verbally?

2) What are some things it’s harder, humanly speaking, to praise God for, though we should do so?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. This is one of my favorite hymns. The poetry is amazing. In addition to the narrative flow that you mentioned, the alliteration and assonance do so much to support the deeper meaning of the hymn, as well as to make it memorable.

    By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask you, Why do you refer to stanzas as CH? I assume it’s short for something, but I’ve never seen it used that way before.


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