Posted by: rcottrill | August 23, 2013

O Praise Ye the Lord

Words: Henry Williams Baker (b. May 27, 1821; d. Feb. 12, 1877)
Music: Laudate Dominum (or, Parry) by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (b. Feb. 27, 1848; d. Oct. 7, 1918)

Links:

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This 1875 hymn by Henry Baker remains, in my view, one of the greatest hymns of praise in the English language. It is sad and most unfortunate that so few churches use it, or even know it. Hymn book after hymn book I checked doesn’t even include it. But the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Praise (1938) has it, as has the revision Common Praise (2000). Both use only the first four stanzas, but you can read all eight in the Cyber Hymnal.

In the latter book, the final stanza is printed with a spectacular running accompaniment for organ. This certainly provides for Baker’s call that: “Loud organs, His glory forth tell in deep tone” (CH-3). In the video clip currently used in the Wordwise Hymns link, ignore the funny hats on the ladies, and the people gazing around as though they weren’t sure what to do. Just listen to this powerful expression of praise, as sung by a large congregation.

I encourage you to print the song on a bulletin insert, and have your congregation learn it and use it. As the Cyber Hymnal indicates, it will work with the tune Hanover, commonly used with Charles Wesley’s Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim. However, give Charles Perry’s magnificent Laudate Dominum a try. I know you will be blessed.

The hymn is inspired by, and makes allusions to, two psalms of praise, Psalms 148 and 150. Together, the passages provide a overwhelming cascade of praise and worship to conclude a book in which that is a prominent theme.

CH-1) O praise ye the Lord! praise Him in the height;
Rejoice in His Word, ye angels of light;
Ye heavens, adore Him by whom ye were made,
And worship before Him in brightness arrayed.

CH-2) O praise ye the Lord! Praise Him upon earth,
In tuneful accord, ye sons of new birth;
Praise Him who hath brought you His grace from above,
Praise Him who hath taught you to sing of His love.

In Psalm 148, we read, “Praise Him all His angels; praise Him all His hosts” (Ps. 148:2). And also: “Kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven” (Ps. 148:11-13).

This we can certainly understand. Both spirit beings and mortals have been given minds to relate to God, and know Him in measure, as well as the verbal abilities to exalt Him. In the Scriptures we are repeatedly summoned to do that. “Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!” (Ps. 113:1).

But Psalm 148 also mentions: the sun, moon, and stars (vs. 3), “waters above the heavens [skies],” representing the atmosphere in general (vs. 4), creatures in the sea (vs. 7), fire, hail, snow, clouds and wind (vs. 8), mountains, trees (vs. 9), “beasts and all cattle [i.e. wild animals and domestic animals], creeping things [such as insects and small animals] and flying fowl” (vs. 10).

So, how can animals or inanimate things praise God? How can a cow or a cat or a cloud praise God? There a couple of answers to that. First, all things reflect praise to God when they fulfil the purpose for which they were created. For example, when rain waters the earth, and causes things to grow–which in turn provides food for the animals (Ps. 147:7-9), that rain is reflecting praise to its Maker.

But there is another aspect of this. God has built into human beings a curiosity about His creation, and a desire to discover how it operates. When we explore the universe and see the wonderful handiwork of God (Ps. 19:1), things that He not only brought into being, but that He also continues to sustain and sovereignly control (Ps. 148:5-6; cf. Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 11:3), we ourselves are motivated to praise the Lord.

What an insult, then, when secular man denies God the glory due to His name, instead asserting that all things are merely the product of billions of years of evolutionary accidents.

“Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:20-22).

The evidence is before all, but they “wilfully overlook and forget” what God has done (II Pet. 3:5, Amplified). How sad! Let us give God the glory for His marvelous works!

CH-4) O praise ye the Lord! Thanksgiving and song
To Him be outpoured all ages along!
For love in creation, for heaven restored,
For grace of salvation, O praise ye the Lord!

Questions:
1) Other than with words and with our songs, what is the best way for us to praise the Lord?

2) What is the reason that some human beings refuse to acknowledge the creative power and wisdom of God that is seen all around in His handiwork?


Links:

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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