Praise


Traditionally, angels have brought two emotions to the front of the mind of humans: Fear and Glory. I find it interesting as I note that nearly every instance that an angel visitation is recorded in the Bible, he introduces his mission with words like this, “Do not be afraid!” The angel said it to Mary when he told her she would be the mother of the Messiah. He said the same to Zechariah upon the announcement of his son John the Baptist’s upcoming birth. When Joseph dreamed of an angelic messenger, he was told not to fear taking Mary to be his wife.

And the moment that seems to top them all: when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the messenger said, “Do not fear! Look! I have great news for everyone!” and then with the help of a sky-full of angels told of the birth of Jesus that very night.

On the heels of the word of comfort, we see the angels announcing glory to God. And so, at Christmas time, one of the things that touches the heart and lips of celebrants of the Christ-child everywhere is glory to God. We like to use the Latin form of the word to bring to mind the season we celebrate, “Gloria!”

  “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory of the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth..”  – John 1:14

John Needham (d. circa 1786)

The Hymn

  1. Awake, my tongue, thy tribute bring
    To Him Who gave Thee power to sing;
    Praise Him Who is all praise above,
    The source of wisdom and of love.
  2. How vast His knowledge, how profound!
    A deep where all our thoughts are drowned;
    The stars He numbers, and their names
    He gives to all those heavenly flames.
  3. Through each bright world above, behold
    Ten thousand thousand charms unfold;
    Earth, air, and mighty seas combine
    To speak His wisdom all divine.
  4. But in redemption, O what grace!
    Its wonders, O what thought can trace!
    Here, wisdom shines forever bright;
    Praise Him, my soul, with sweet delight.

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas included in our study hymnal are indicated with bold print.

Scriptural Connection

In Exodus 4, verse 11, the Almighty gives a reminder to Moses in the midst of the servant’s “call” experience, that it is God who has made even the mouth and tongue of man. So it is that man’s mouth should say what it is that God Almighty has given him to say. In response to this, we find this ancient hymn that teaches us to praise the One who made our lips.

What does it mean?

This song written some 200 years ago is one which calls the worshiper to the act of righteous praise. In ancient fashion we have a passion for the giving of praise where praise is due. In a way the archaic disposition of the song is a bit of a drawback for the song. Perhaps it is this reason that more hymn collectors pass this selection over than choose to include it in their volumes. One thing that causes me to struggle with this one is the way the poet approaches God from a seemingly negative side in order to bring us to the throne of glory.

Even so, there are a few phrases that bring us cause to really hear the heart of the poet. He insists that “ten thousand thousand charms unfold.” We are reminded of the vastness of the Creator. Constant images of depth and vast expanse turn our minds to the greatness of God. Much like more modern song writers say in today’s pop culture – “Our God is an awesome God . . .” or “How great is our God . . .” In the late eighteenth century, to examine the vastness of God would turn our attention to how inadequate we are when standing in His presence. And even then, as inadequate as we find ourselves to be, we must use the tongue that God has placed in us for its greatest activity—praise of God.

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

Translated from German (c. 1800) by Edward Caswall (1814-1878)

Also included in The Broadman Hymnal, 1940 edition, Broadman Press, Nashville, #7; Voice of Praise, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1947, #127; The Baptist Hymnal, 1975 edition, Convention Press, Nashville, #44; 1991 edition, Convention Press, Nashville, #221; 2008 edition, LifeWay, Nashville, #141; Inspiring Hymns, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1951, #1 (entitled “May Jesus Christ Be Praised”); Favorite Hymns of Praise, Tabernacle, Chicago, 1967, #1; The Hymnal for Worship & Praise, Word, Waco, 1986, #87; The Celebration Hymnal, Word, Waco, 1997, #215.

As you can tell by a simple glance, the poem which provides the words for this hymn is much lengthier than provided for in most hymnals. Some more recent hymnals credit a separate third verse (“Ye nations of mankind, In this your concord find:/May Jesus Christ be praised!/Let all the earth around Ring joyous with the sound:/May Jesus Christ be praised!”) to Robert Bridges when he included the hymn in an 1899 hymnal. Hymnal editors have included various stanzas from the original as well: Broadman and VoP – 1, 5, ll. 1&2 of 14 + ll. 3&4 of 10, & 15 (with minor changes to line 3); BH 1975, 1991, & 2008 – 1, 10, Bridges above, 14; Inspiring Hymns and Favorite Hymns – 1, 9, 5, ll. 1&2 of 14 + ll. 3&4 of 10, 15; The Hymnal – 1, 5, 10, Bridges above, 13, 15; Celebration – 1, 10, Bridges above, 15.

The Hymn

  1. When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  2. When you begin the day, O never fail to say,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    And at your work rejoice, to sing with heart and voice,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  3. Whene’er the sweet church bell peals over hill and dell,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    O hark to what it sings, as joyously it rings,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  4. My tongue shall never tire of chanting with the choir,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    This song of sacred joy, it never seems to cloy,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  5. Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  6. To God, the Word, on high, the host of angels cry,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Let mortals, too, upraise their voice in hymns of praise,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  7. Be this at meals your grace, in every time and place;
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Be this, when day is past, of all your thoughts the last
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  8. When mirth for music longs, this is my song of songs:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    When evening shadows fall, this rings my curfew call,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  9. When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  10. The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  11. No lovelier antiphon in all high Heav’n is known
    Than, Jesus Christ be praised!
    There to the eternal Word the eternal psalm is heard:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  12. Let all the earth around ring joyous with the sound:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    In Heaven’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  13. Sing, suns and stars of space, sing, ye that see His face,
    Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
    God’s whole creation o’er, for aye and evermore
    Shall Jesus Christ be praised!
  14. In Heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Let earth, and sea and sky from depth to height reply,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  15. Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas included in our study hymnal are indicated with bold print.

Scriptural Connection

There are a variety of Psalms offered as connections to the Scripture for this hymn. One hymnal suggests Revelation 5 as a connection because of the praise to Christ offered in both the Bible passage and the hymn. One expert also turned us to Romans 9:5 in that verse’s praise of Christ as God over all. Any of these would be appropriate. I would lean more toward the New Testament connections because of the refrain of the hymn: “May Jesus Christ be praised!”

What does it mean?

This particular hymn is directly a call to praise Christ. All of the stanzas include the refrain over and over to praise Jesus Christ. The interspersed lines give us the reasons and the timing to do such praise. At work, at prayer, in happy occasions and fearful ones. Always run to Jesus (“to Jesus I repair”) in all occasions and in every moment and as you do so give Him praise.

This hymn, while unfamiliar to me from my developmental years, has quite a respect among hymnists—and well it should. This is a hymn, regardless of the stanzas chosen to sing, which points all worshipers to the One who is worthy of our praise. We can praise Him no matter the time of day, the activity in which we are engaged, or the circumstances which touch our lives.

“May Jesus Christ be praised!”

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

[Having taken a couple of weeks off for the holidays, we will take up where we left off, with number 19.]

Words by Isaac Watts (1674 -1748)

The Hymn

  1. Now to the Lord a noble song!
    Awake, my soul; awake, my tongue;
    Hosanna to th’eternal Name,
    And all His boundless love proclaim.
  2. See where it shines in Jesus’ face,
    The brightest image of His grace;
    God, in the person of His Son,
    Has all His mightiest works outdone.
  3. The spacious earth and spreading flood
    Proclaim the wise and powerful God;
    And thy rich glories from afar
    Sparkle in every rolling star.
  4. But in His looks a glory stands,
    The noblest labor of thine hands;
    The pleasing luster of His eyes
    Outshines the wonders of the skies.
  5. Grace! ‘tis a sweet, a charming theme;
    My thoughts rejoice at Jesus’ Name:
    Ye angels, dwell upon the sound!
    Ye heav’ns, reflect it to the ground!
  6. O may I live to reach the place [O may I reach the happy place]
    Where he unveils His lovely face!
    Where all His beauties you behold,
    And sing His Name to harps of gold!

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas in bold are those used in our sample hymnal. [Bracketed words are from the 1956 Baptist Hymnal]

Scriptural Connection

An excellent connection to make for this hymn because of the desire to direct praise to God the Son is found in Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always, I say again, ‘Rejoice!’”

What does it mean?

With yet another hymn calling worshipers to the act of praise is found here. This time we are called to awake from our sleepy state to offer praise to, specifically, God the Son. We are reminded that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s love (see John 3:16), and the epitome of all that God has planned.

The love of God shines from Christ. The grace of God proceeds from Christ. The wealth of God is found in Christ. Therefore as we lift a noble song to the Lord, we discover that Christ is that noble song that we sing.

May we forever keep singing it.

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

Words by Henry F. Lyte (1793-1847)

(Also included in the Baptist Hymnal, 1975 ed., Convention Press, Nashville, #8; 1991 ed., Convention Press, Nashville, #32; 2008, ed., LifeWay, Nashville, #2; The Celebration Hymnal, 1997, Word/Integrity, Waco – #1; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, 1986, Word, Waco – #3.)

The Hymn

  1. Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
    To His feet your tribute bring.
    Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
    Who like me His praise should sing:
    Alleluia! Alleluia!
    Praise the everlasting King.
  2. Praise Him for His grace and favor
    To our fathers in distress.
    Praise Him still the same forever,
    Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!
    Glorious in His faithfulness.
  3. Father-like, He tends and spares us;
    Well our feeble frame He knows.
    In His hands He gently bears us,
    Rescues us from all our foes.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!
    Widely as His mercy goes.
  4. Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
    Blows the wind and it is gone;
    But while mortals rise and perish
    God endures unchanging on,
    Praise Him, praise Him,
    Praise Him, praise Him,
    Praise the High Eternal One!
  5. Angels, help us to adore Him;
    Ye behold Him face to face;
    Saints triumphant, bow before Him,
    Gathered in from every race.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!
    Praise with us the God of grace.

(Hymn words accessed at Center for Church Music, Songs and Hymns) Stanzas in bold are those used in our sample hymnal. [Note: I have changed the words “Praise Him, Praise Him/Praise Him, Praise Him” to read “Alleluia! Alleluia!” as is consistent with the hymnbooks I have available to me—as opposed to the on-line version above (the change was made early in the hymn’s history). The lines italicized in the last stanza have been adapted as in our hymnal rather than “Sun and moon, bow down before Him/Dwellers in all time and space.” I have included these changes not to discount the collectors on the website, but to keep a consistency with the Hymnals we have and to keep the integrity of the theology of the Psalm from which the words were taken in the original poem. Note: I have left stanza untouched from the website as it is not included in our hymn collection.]

Scriptural Connection

Scriptural connections are much easier to be had when we know the basis from which a poet has taken his words. In the case of this hymn, we find a paraphrase of one of the Psalms that was collected in the early 19th century. Particularly, this is a paraphrase of Psalm 103, so that should be the best connection that we make.

What does it mean?

Yet another hymn encourages worshipers to praise God. We are to pay homage (or tribute) to Him in the form of praise. The call to place this tribute at His feet is a visual phrasing that brings to mind the payment of owed gains (known as tribute) from those who were servants of another. It is a terminology most aptly applied to conquered peoples paying tribute to the conquering king or authority. The tribute that we are to lay at His feet is not a monetary one so much as a payment of praise that is His due because He has conquered our sinful nature and set us free—so we gladly bring this payment.

Those who have not known distress and being set free from an oppressor (like the ancient Hebrews) are to continue to bring this tribute just as their fathers who saw it firsthand. He treats us just as a loving Father would – with loving, gentle hands, but strong in correction. Heavenly beings (angels) as well as “saints triumphant” (those who have conquered sin through God’s intervention) are both called upon to praise Him. Again the first stanza tells us why: He has “ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven” us.

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

Words by Edward H. Plumptre (1821-1891)

(Also included in The Broadman Hymnal, 1940 ed., Broadman Press, Nashville – #285; the Baptist Hymnal, 1975 ed., Convention Press, Nashville, #28; 1991 ed., Convention Press, Nashville, #39; 2008, ed., LifeWay, Nashville, #578; Favorite Hymns of Praise, 1967, Tabernacle Publishing Company, Chicago – #7; Inspiring Hymns, 1968, Zondervan, Grand Rapids – #301; The Celebration Hymnal, 1997, Word/Integrity, Waco – #169; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, 1986, Word, Waco – #562.)

It is surprising to me that this hymn is such a favorite among the hymn collectors when I don’t recall having ever sung it in worship. I will also note that collections vary (almost evenly) as to whether they include four or five stanzas.

The Hymn

  1. *+^Rejoice, ye pure in heart!
    Rejoice, give thanks and sing!
    Your glorious banner wave on high,
    the cross of Christ your King.

    [Refrain:]
    Rejoice, rejoice,
    rejoice, give thanks and sing.
  2. Bright youth and snow crowned age,
    strong men and maidens meek,
    raise high your free, exulting song,
    God’s wondrous praises speak.
    [Refrain]
  3. Yes onward, onward still
    with hymn, and chant and song,
    through gate, and porch and columned aisle,
    the hallowed pathways throng. [Refrain]
  4. *+^With all the angel choirs,
    with all the saints of earth,
    pour out the strains of joy and bliss,
    true rapture, noblest mirth.
    [Refrain]
  5. Your clear hosannas raise;
    and alleluias loud;
    whilst answering echoes upward float,
    Like wreaths of incense cloud. [Refrain]
  6. With voice as full and strong
    as ocean’s surging praise,
    send forth the hymns our fathers loved,
    the psalms of ancient days. [Refrain]
  7. *+^Yes, on through life’s long path,
    still chanting as ye go;
    from youth to age, by night and day,
    in gladness and in woe.
    [Refrain]
  8. *+^Still lift your standard high,
    still march in firm array,
    as warriors through the darkness toil,
    till dawns the golden day.
    [Refrain]
  9. At last the march shall end;
    the wearied ones shall rest;
    the pilgrims find their heavenly home,
    Jerusalem the blessed. [Refrain]
  10. *Then on, ye pure in heart!
    Rejoice, give thanks and sing!
    Your glorious banner wave on high,
    the cross of Christ your King.
    [Refrain]
  11. ^Praise God who reigns on high,
    the Lord whom we adore,
    the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
    one God forevermore. [Refrain]

(Hymn words accessed at Hymns.me.uk) Stanzas in bold are those used in our sample hymnal. Italicized stanzas are from Broadman, Inspiring Hymns. *Favorite Hymns, +The Hymnal, ^Celebration. One should also note that occasionally there are word variations and in one case stanzas are in a different order—although all hymnals agree on the refrain.

Scriptural Connection

An excellent connection to make with the Scripture for this hymn can be found in Psalm 32:11, a verse calling those who are righteous and upright to rejoice in the Lord.

What does it mean?

In this hymn we find a very useful tool for worship. It can be used as a call to worship much like a number of the hymns we have already studied. It is also an excellent praise song to sing during a service of thanksgiving—after all, repeatedly the worshiper is called to give thanks—specifically, to “Rejoice, give thanks and sing!”

Perhaps, since it is such a favorite of those who collect hymns, we might dust this one off and renew an interest in the encouragement to rejoice. It doesn’t really matter that the collectors choose different stanzas from the collection, and this wealth of number of stanzas may even lend to our being able to add it to our worship a number of Sundays in a row without singing more than one or two of the stanzas in repetition.

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

Words by Anna L. Barbauld (1743-1825)

(Also included in the Broadman Hymnal, 1940 ed., Broadman Press, Nashville – #251.)

This hymn, appearing in only two of my available hymnbooks, is edited in two different forms. One containing four six-line stanzas (Baptist Hymnal) and using the melody “DIX” arranged by Conrad Kocher (1780-1872), while the other has three four-line stanzas (Broadman Hymnal) and is sung to “PLEYEL’S HYMN” by I. Pleyel.

The Hymn

  1. Praise to God, immortal praise,
    For the love that crowns our days;
    Bounteous Source of every joy,
    Let Thy praise our tongues employ,

    All to Thee, our God, we owe,
    Source whence all our blessings flow.
  2. All the plenty summer pours;
    Autumn’s rich, o’erflowing stores;
    Flocks that whiten all the plain;
    Yellow sheaves of ripened grain, —
    Lord, for these our souls shall raise
    Grateful vows and solemn praise.
  3. Peace, prosperity, and health,
    Private bliss, and public wealth,
    Knowledge with its gladdening streams,
    True religion’s holier beams,
    Lord, for these our souls shall raise
    Grateful vows and solemn praise.
  4. As Thy prospering hand hath blest,
    May we give Thee all our best
    And by deeds of kindly love
    For Thy mercies grateful prove,

    Singing thus through all our days
    Praise to God, immortal praise.

(Hymn words accessed at Lutheran Hymnal Online) (Italics indicates Broadman Hymnal verses—the second verse in this version reads “For the blessings of the field,/For the stores the gardens yield,/For the joy which harvests bring,/Grateful praises now we sing.”)

Just for fun we will post a shorter-lined verse version from CyberHymnal.

  1. Praise to God, immortal praise,
    For the love that crowns our days;
    Bounteous Source of every joy,
    Let Thy praise our tongues employ.
  2. Flocks that whiten all the plain;
    Yellow sheaves of ripened grain;
    Clouds that drop their fattening dews,
    Suns that temperate warmth diffuse.
  3. All that Spring with bounteous hand
    Scatters o’er the smiling land;
    All that liberal Autumn pours
    From her rich o’erflowing stores.
  4. These to Thee, my God, we owe,
    Source whence all our blessings flow;
    And for these my soul shall raise
    Grateful vows and solemn praise.
  5. Yet, should rising whirlwinds tear
    From its stem the ripening ear;
    Should the fig tree’s blasted shoot
    Drop her green untimely fruit,
  6. Should the vine put forth no more,
    Nor the olive yield her store;
    Though the sickening flocks should fall,
    And the herds desert the stall,
  7. Yet to Thee my soul shall raise
    Grateful vows and solemn praise;
    And, when every blessing’s flown
    Love Thee for Thyself alone.

Scriptural Connection

Psalm 67 provides a good backdrop in which to see this hymn of praise and thanksgiving.

What does it mean?

Assuming that we have no difficulty with understanding praise, I will address the concept of “immortal praise.” By this the writer is referring not to “immortals” giving praise to the only One who is immortal, and though we are praising the immortal God, the modifier “immortal” refers to the praise. This means that we should allow our praise of the Immortal One to be ever-living as well. There is no end to the praise we lift.

We praise and thank Him for his love, joy, and blessings. It is He who has the right to such praise and thanksgiving. While our praise begins on this earth and is initiated by the things and blessings that we can see and feel. Our praise is to be modified by its thanksgiving and be lifted up into infinity (and beyond as Buzz Lightyear would say).

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

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