Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
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,
join me in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneith,
shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how they desires e'er have been
granted in what he ordaineth?
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 will do,
if with his love he befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, who with marvelous wisdom hath made thee,
decked thee with health, and with loving hand guided and stayed thee.
How oft in grief hath not he brought thee relief,
spreading his wings to o'ershade thee!
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 e'er we adore him.
- Joachim Neander
"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" was written as a loose summary of psalms 103 and 150 by Joachim Neander in 1680. Joachim Neander grew up under heavy secular influence, yet he became a believer and a Calvinist schoolmaster in his early 20s. Despite the fact that he lived much of his short Christian life under significant adversity, he wrote 60 glorious hymns - mostly praise hymns - and became the first significant hymn-writer in the German Reformed Church." Most of his hymns were written during his time as a hermit living in the Neander Valley. The stunning beauty of the rocky cliffs, verdant slopes, and peaceful river are reflected in many of his stanzas. "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" was published in 1680, the same year in which he died of tuberculosis at the young age of 30.
This hymn presents a beautiful panoply of the attributes of God. It opens with the hymnwriter praising the Almighty, who is the "King of creation," the One who is our health and salvation. At the end of the first stanza, he calls all who hear to draw near to His temple and join in the "glad adoration."
The second stanza draws our focus to God's sovereignty. He is the God, who "o'er all things so wondrously reigneth." We feel the mighty sheltering wings and the gentle sustaining arms of the Almighty and know that all our desires "have been granted in what he ordaineth."
The third stanza focuses on God as our "Defender" and "Befriender." Surely this God is not far off. He prospers our work, defends us, and attends to us daily with goodness and mercy. Think what He will do for us if He befriends us!
The fourth stanza continues this more intimate relationship with God as the hymnwriter marvels at God's personal creation in each of us and His providence for us as he has given us health, "and with loving hand guided and stayed" us. It ends with the beautiful image of His wings spreading to overshade His loved ones, to protect them and give them relief.
Finally, the hymn crescendos its praise into the fifth stanza with a call to ALL creation, "all that hath life and breath," to come and to join in the praise of the Almighty. The praises resound with a happy "amen" over and over again on into eternity as "gladly fore'er we adore him."
SINGING IN HARMONY
The tune of this week's hymn LOBE DEN HERREN originates from a German folk song. The harmonies are a bit challenging, but the second musical phrase is the same as the first, so in practicing the first 6 measures, you'll find you've learned over half the tune. And it's been a well-loved tune for centuries. Not only was it the favorite of Frederick William III of Prussia (in case you needed a reason!), but several great composers have used this tune in chorales, most notably J.S. Bach in his chorale cantata 137.