September 2012

Words by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Personal note: of the hymnals that I have on the shelf, this hymn is unique to the 1956 edition of the Baptist Hymnal. This does not diminish the power of a hymn; it just illustrates the struggle that editors encounter when choosing which worship songs to include when dealing with a limited number of pages. One thing that will attest to the strength of this hymn is the author—Isaac Watts wrote a number of hymns and a cursory glance at the “Author/Composer” index included in many (not all) hymnals shows that the writer is not neglected by any means among the great songs of faith written over the years.

The Hymn

  1. Let all on earth their voices raise,
    To sing the great Jehovah’s praise,
    And bless His holy name:
    His glory let the people know,
    His wonders to the nations show,
    His saving grace proclaim.
  2. He framed the globe; He built the sky;
    He made the shining worlds on high,
    And reigns in glory there:
    His beams are majesty and light;
    His beauties, how divinely bright!
    His dwelling place, how fair!
  3. Come, the great day, the glorious hour,
    When earth shall feel His saving power,
    All nations fear His name;
    Then shall the race of men confess
    The beauty of His holiness,
    His saving grace proclaim.

(In our study hymnal, each stanza includes a repetition of the last line—most likely a musical adjustment for tune adaptation when singing. I have accessed the lyrics above from the on-line SDA Hymnal.)

Here is another variation I found on-line (note the variety in the lyric as well as the extra verse—I am not sure which is the more accurate rendering of Watts’ original lyric.

  1. Let all the earth their voices raise
    To sing the choicest psalm of praise,
    To sing and bless Jehovah’s Name:
    His glory let the heathens know,
    His wonders to the nations show,
    And all His saving works proclaim.
  2. The heathens know Thy glory, Lord,
    The wond’ring nations read Thy Word,
    In Britain is Jehovah known:
    Our worship shall no more be paid
    To gods which mortal hands have made;
    Our Maker is our God alone.
  3. He framed the globe, He built the sky,
    He made the shining worlds on high,
    And reigns complete in glory there:
    His beams are majesty and light;
    His beauties, how divinely bright!
    His temple, how divinely fair!
  4. Come the great day, the glorious hour,
    When earth shall feel His saving power,
    And barb’rous nations fear His Name;
    Then shall the race of man confess
    The beauty of His holiness,
    And in His courts His grace proclaim. (this version accessed at Any Lyrics.)

Scriptural Connection

One on-line hymn site suggests Psalm 96 as a scriptural connection and I would concur that the Psalmist’s desire to call all of creation into praise of God fits nicely with Watts’ goal in this hymn.

What does it mean?

Part of the great beauty of this hymn is the inversion of word order. Phrases like “His glory let the people know” may sound a bit different to the ear, but the emphasis moved from the people to the glory is evident here.

The writer makes a point to include as many of God’s attributes that deserve our adoration—the beams that shine out from Him are majesty and light (He is the embodiment of royalty and light) and the beauty of God is not just bright, but divinely so.

The language may sound archaic, but the call to worship echoes over the centuries—Let us all (all of the earth—mankind, the animal kingdom, and all of Nature itself) lift our voices in praise to the Almighty God.

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.


Words by Joachim Neander (1650-1680) [translated by Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878)]

(Also included in Baptist Hymnal – 1975 ed. #10; 1991 ed. #14; 2008 ed. #1; The Celebration Hymnal, Word/Integrity, Waco, 1997 – #210; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, Word, Waco, 1986 – #8)

The Hymn

  1. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
    O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
    All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
    Praise Him in glad adoration.
  2. Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
    Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
    Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
    Granted in what He ordaineth?
  3. Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
    Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
    What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
    Wings of His mercy did shade thee.
  4. Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
    Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
    Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
    If with His love He befriend thee.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
    (Hymn lyrics taken from the Cyber Hymnal)

[Bold print indicates verses included in our study hymnal. I will also note a couple of changes that have touched hymnals over the years concerning this hymn: (1) words like “over” and “ever” are often contracted to “o’er” and “e’er” to fit the rhythm of the music, and (2) hymnal editors from a come from a variety of schools concerning the last line in stanza 1, rendering it alternately as you see above and with the words “Join me in glad adoration” (the 1956 Baptist Hymnal that we use for this project makes this change, although later versions of the Baptist Hymnal keep the version listed above.]

Scriptural Connection

While I have come across other options to connect this hymn to scripture (such as Daniel’s praise song – Daniel 4:3), the fact that this is another example of praise hymnody lends itself to finding our connection in the Psalms. Some excellent examples include (but may not be limited to) Psalms 148 or 150—praising Almighty God in either case.

What does it mean?

You might notice that only four of the seven stanzas are included in our hymnal. In fact, as I searched through all of my hymnals I found only the four verses highlighted above. These four verses are the strongest theologically, and would bring the least amount of argument among worshiping brothers and sisters. Let’s look at them first.

This hymn is a call to praise to God who by virtue of who He is merits our praise. He is in control of all, praise Him. He provides for needs (health, and sustenance), praise Him. He protects from danger, praise Him! You get the idea.

Having been written in the 17th century (in German) and then translated in the mid 1800s, much of the language used reminds us of Shakespearean English, making extensive use of the ‘-eth’ ending (much as we would ad an ‘s’ to the end of a word for the sake of tense).

One difficulty that a singer might have in interpreting the last line of the first verse might have to do with the unclear antecedent. Early in the verse the speaker addresses his own soul to be the one that does the praise. He turns then to all who might hear the song of praise to come to the temple of God in order to praise Him. So, “join me” might refer to the crowd called to worship expecting all the voices to pick up on the praise already started by the speaker’s soul. At the same time, leaving the phrase “Praise Him in glad adoration!” can give the effect of calling everyone (including the speaker’s soul) into more earnest praise.

The speaker also asks the rhetorical question—Don’t you see that God gives you all that you desire—health, safety, etc.—as part of His plan? (“in what He ordaineth?”) This suggests that there is ample reason for the people of creation to praise the Almighty.

The Lord gives good things (He causes your work to prosper), He defends you, He stays with you all of the time – every day (as seen in stanza 3). Think about it, we are told, God will do anything for those whom He calls friend. Then the hymn comes to a dramatic climax calling for the great agreement of God’s people to be announced forever. Such is the meaning of the word “Amen” (literally, “Let it be so!”).

The remaining verses of our hymn of today indicate that God is able to keep us even when we misstep, He is worthy of our praise in times of war and also when it seems like the unrighteous people have the upper hand.

Bottom line, the Lord is Almighty—praise Him!

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.

Before you get uptight and stop visiting the blog, rest assured that I am not about to get really political here. Even so, I understand that this is a year in which those of us who are citizens of the United States of America will elect the president who will serve for the next four years (2013-2017). I am not about to tell you for whom you should vote, it isn’t any of my business. Nor am I going to tell you the candidate who will get my ballot, that isn’t any of your business.

Yes, I do have strong opinions. And yes, I often share them with you–that’s part of what this blog is about. Jumping on someone’s campaign bandwagon is not one of my cherished ideas, though. I can tell you this much: some of you would be surprised because you think that I think just like you and would vote the same way you do as a result of that affinity. It might surprise you that your opinions don’t influence me that much.

Others of you think you know my leanings because of my background–family, region, religion, etc.–and would discover that I’m either just like you thought or not at all. One request on this end: don’t put words in my mouth, it’s unsanitary, and I like to speak for myself.

At any rate, I think that voting is an important privilege for US citizens of voting age. Because of this, I take the task seriously. I pray about the candidates and what they say or promise. I ask for guidance. And I read, listen and look for as much information I can to help me make an informed choice. I would like to encourage you to do the same. To that end, I have stumbled on a series of articles posted by my friend Marty Duren at Kingdom in the Midst. In the series, he has allowed four people who support one or another of the candidates in this year’s presidential race to voice their opinion. The entire series is well worth your attention. I would ask you to remember that (1) the opinions expressed in each article are those of the one making the opinions and do not necessarily represent my opinion. (2) Again, while I am not endorsing any one candidate or other for your support, the people quoted in the articles are, but some of what they have to say may resonate with you (that might be an indicator of where you should place your ballot).

So, in the order that they appeared on Marty’s blog, here are people who will tell you whom they will vote for and why:

Realize that each of these articles may persuade you. They are well-articulated and very persuasive. But it is my desire to give you yet another tool as you prepare to approach the voter’s booth (or not) in November.

[For those who are keeping score, I did miss last Monday–it was Labor Day (one of our holidays here in the  USA) so I took a breather. Now we’re back with the latest hymn-sing post.]

Words by George W. Frazier (1830-1896) [stanza 3, Alfred S. Loizeaux (1877-1962)]

(Also included in Baptist Hymnal – 1975 ed. #3; 1991 ed. #248; 2008 ed. #337; The Celebration Hymnal, Word/Integrity, Waco, 1997 – #93; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, Word, Waco, 1986 – #268)

This old hymn has been included in numerous volumes of hymnals. As you can see from the list of my personal collection (I don’t think Heber’s hymn was excluded from any hymnal I own), this is a favorite song of praise. It remains a favorite for many Christians today.

The Hymn

  1. God, our Father, we adore Thee!
    We, Thy children, bless Thy name!
    Chosen in the Christ before Thee,
    We are “holy without blame.”
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Abba’s praises we proclaim!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Abba’s praises we proclaim!
  2. Son Eternal, we adore Thee!
    Lamb upon the throne on high!
    Lamb of God, we bow before Thee,
    Thou hast bro’t Thy people nigh!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Son of God, who came to die!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Son of God who came to die!
  3. Holy Spirit, we adore Thee!
    Paraclete and heavenly guest!
    Sent from God and from the Savior,
    Thou hast led us into rest.
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    By Thy grace forever blest;
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    By Thy grace forever blest!
  4. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
    Three in One! we give Thee praise!
    For the riches we inherit,
    Heart and voice to Thee we raise!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Thee we bless thro’ endless days!
    We adore Thee! we adore Thee!
    Thee we bless through endless days!

Scriptural Connection

To find a Scriptural connection, hymnal editors over the years have focused either on the worship/adoration theme of the music or on the address of the Father by His children (looking for references to children of God as their basis). In the latter case, one could turn to Romans 8:16 for the assertion that we (as Christians) are children of God.

Personally, I believe that when looking for a Scriptural connection of a hymn one is better served to look for passages that speak to the message of the song rather than the details. So I would more likely choose a worship passage such as John 4:23, where the evangelist teaches us that we are to worship in spirit and in truth.

What does it mean?

This hymn is a hymn of praise to God. Each stanza focuses on a separate person of the Trinity to be the recipient of the praise of God’s people. Taking each verse individually we see some excellent teaching about God, Salvation, and the Holy Spirit.

In stanza one, we address God the Father. We see how and why we can be known as His children—it is through Christ, and in Him that we can be seen as blameless. Frazer also takes advantage of the Father-child relationship by including the affectionate term “Abba” as a reference to God. What is so spectacular about this part of the hymn is that instead of the more formal title “Father,” Christians, because of Christ, can have that intimate relationship in which (as in the Aramaic “Abba”) we can refer to God as Papa or Daddy . . . even as we sing His praises.

Stanza two focuses on the Son. We see His attributes—He is “Eternal”—as well as His responsibilities—He came to earth to die. In so doing He is the Lamb (bringing to mind the picture of a sacrificial lamb) who was offered in sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.

Verse three was a later addition to this hymn which was originally included in a hymnal of the Plymouth Brethren who were opposed strongly to ascribing praise to the Holy Spirit. Their idea was that while He is a person of the Godhead, there is no Scriptural foundation for addressing praise to the Spirit. The author of the third verse was part of the publishing family who printed the original hymnal but he had no conviction about not praising the Spirit. So when another hymn editor asked about a verse addressed to the Spirit, Loizeaux, wrote several options one of which was chosen to include in the new hymnal. Loizeaux also suggested that he felt that adding in this verse made the thought more complete—after all it was also a hymn confirming the Trinity. One difficult word in this verse is the archaic word “Paraclete” which is a transliteration of a Greek term for the Holy Spirit—the Comforter which will be sent after Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection. He is the person of the Trinity who lives (or dwells) within the heart of the believer as an honored guest and guide.

The last stanza brings everything together, and I must agree with Loizeaux that without the third verse addressing the Holy Spirit, this final stanza would seem a little out of place. Instead we have a full and complete thought. Like the Godhead is complete in the Trinity, our praise is complete only as we praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in His entirety for an eternity.

For those who would like to sing along, the tune normally used for this hymn is BEECHER by John Zundel (1815-1882) which is you might remember from singing “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.