Posted by: rcottrill | May 21, 2014

Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him

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Words: Stanzas 1 and 2 by an unknown author; stanza 3 by Edward Osler (b. Jan. 31, 1798; d. Mar. 7, 1863)
Music: Hyfrydol, by Roland Huw Prichard (b. Jan. 14, 1811; d. Jan. 25, 1887)


Wordwise Hymns (Edward Osler)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The first two stanzas of the hymn (author unknown) were written around 1801. They appeared in a four-page tract, containing five hymns, that was pasted in the back of a hymn book published for use by London’s Foundling Hospital (an orphanage for abandoned children). Dr. Edward Osler added the third stanza in 1836, maybe thinking it needed to be a bit longer, or needed a fitting climax.

The Cyber Hymnal lists no less than five possible tunes used with this hymn. (One of them, called Gotha, or Albert, was composed by Prince Albert, beloved husband of Queen Victoria.) However, I believe the rousing Welsh tune Hyfrydol suits the text of this great hymn best of all. (Hyfrydol is commonly used with the hymn Our Great Saviour.)

This is a great hymn of praise. As the original heading indicates, it is based on Psalm 148. The heading reads: Hymn from Psalm CXLVIII, Haydn. (The reference to composer Franz Josef Haydn perhaps suggests the use of his tune, composed in 1797, and sometimes called Haydn. We commonly use it for the hymn Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.)

The Psalm that inspired the hymn says:

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created” (Ps. 148:1-5).

Perhaps it’s fitting that most of this wonderful hymn is anonymous. For that reason we are less distracted by human personalities and can focus our full attention on the praise of God.

We can certainly see how human beings and angels can praise the Lord. We are able to think about what He has done, and what it means to us and others, and put our expressions of worship and thanksgiving into words. According to the psalm, even the highest members of society (vs. 11), both old and young (vs. 12) have reason to praise the Lord.

But, Psalm 148 speaks of praise extending far beyond that, summoning the following to praise God: the sun, moon and stars (vs. 3); the waters above the earth (vs. 4); animals, and the elements (vs. 7-8, 10); as well as mountains and trees (vs. 9). Even nursing infants can praise God (cf. Ps. 8:2). Without verbalizing it as we can, these all bring honour and glory to God:

¤ By fulfilling the purpose for which God created them. For example, when the trees produce fruit for man and beast to eat, that glorifies God (cf. Ps. 104:14).

¤ Through the scientific discoveries of man. When we look at nature with clear and unbiased vision, we see there the wonderful handiwork of God, and we are moved to praise Him for it (cf. Ps. 19:1).

CH-1) Praise the Lord: ye heavens, adore Him;
Praise Him, angels in the height.
Sun and moon, rejoice before Him;
Praise Him, all ye stars of light.
Praise the Lord, for He hath spoken;
Worlds His mighty voice obeyed.
Laws which never shall be broken
For their guidance He hath made.

Beyond the world of nature, believers have reason to praise and worship God for His wonderful salvation. He has promised that, through faith in Christ, sinners can have their sins forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life (Jn. 3:16). He has promised that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord in faith will be saved (Rom. 10:13). And “never shall His promise fail” (CH-2).

CH-2) Praise the Lord, for He is glorious;
Never shall His promise fail.
God hath made His saints victorious;
Sin and death shall not prevail.
Praise the God of our salvation;
Hosts on high, His power proclaim.
Heaven and earth and all creation,
Laud and magnify His name.

“Every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honour and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’” (Rev. 5:13).

CH-3) Worship, honour, glory, blessing,
Lord, we offer unto Thee.
Young and old, Thy praise expressing,
In glad homage bend the knee.
All the saints in heaven adore Thee;
We would bow before Thy throne.
As Thine angels serve before Thee,
So on earth Thy will be done.

1) How does even the wrath of man (Ps. 76:10) bring praise to God?

2) Will you encourage your church to learn and sing this great hymn, if they don’t do so already?


Wordwise Hymns (Edward Osler)
The Cyber Hymnal


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