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.

Advertisements