Wayne S. Walker

“Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing” (Ps. 100.2)

     INTRO.:  Read TEXT.  A hymn that’s taken from Ps. 100 is “All People That On Earth Do Dwell” (#57 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #66 in Sacred Selections for the Church.  This metrical version is usually attributed to William Kethe.  There’s no definite information available about the date and place of Kethe’s birth, but it’s generally believed that he was a native of Scotland.  His early life is unknown, but he was a Puritan who, because of the Marian persecution by Catholics of Protestants in 1555, went into exile at Frankfort, Germany, and then in 1558 moved to Geneva, Switzerland.  There, he seems to have been engaged in helping to translate the Geneva Bible which came out in 1560.  Also he assisted with the publication of John Day’s Anglo-Genevan Psalter of 1561 where his renderings of 25 psalms appeared.

     This hymn was included in that first edition.  Later editions came out in 1562 and 1564.  The Psalter editors often tinkered with the metrical psalm arrangements from one edition to the next, which may explain why there are some variations in the wording of this one in different songbooks.  After Elizabeth I came to the throne, Kethe returned to England in 1561 where he became minister of the church of Childe Okeford in Dorsetshire, and in 1563 and again in 1569 served as chaplain to Elizabeth’s forces under the Earl of Warwick at Havre.  His death is usually given as having occurred on June 6, 1594, at Dorsetshire, England, but various sources place it as early as 1593 or as late as 1608.

     What gave this psalm its popularity was the tune (Old Hundredth) often attributed to Guillaume Franc (1520-1570).  It is sometimes dated 1543.  It was apparently adapted by Louis Bourgeois (1510-1561).  Bourgeois was born in Paris, France, but followed John Calvin to Geneva, where he was song director at the Church of St. Peters. The melody first appeared in the Genevan Psalter of 1551, which Bourgeois edited, with Ps. 134, but it was used with Ps. 100 in Kethe’s Four-Score and Seven Psalms of David published in 1561 at Geneva, and has been associated with it ever since.  Originally, it had a rather sprightly rhythm, which Queen Elizabeth scornfully called one of those “Geneva jigs.”  The more sedate form and modern harmonization that is familiar today is sometimes credited to Joseph Barnby (1838-1896).

     The Doxology (used as a “chorus” with “All People That On Earth Do Dwell” in Sacred Selections and separately at #561 in Hymns for Worship Revised) was not the work of Kethe but of a bishop in the Anglican Church, Thomas Ken (1637-1711).  A teacher at Winchester College, Oxford, he wrote three hymns for his students to sing–one in the morning, one in the evening, and one at midnight.  The Doxology made up the closing stanza of each one.  It was first published in 1673 or 1674 in Ken’s Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College.  Kethe had published his own doxology:
“To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, The God Whom heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host Be praise and glory evermore.”
Notice the difference in rhyming scheme.  Both Kethe’s psalm and doxology are A-B-A-B, whereas Ken’s doxology is A-A-B-B.

     “All People That On Earth Do Dwell” was used in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson, but both it and the Doxology were used in the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert Welch and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.  Only the doxology was used in the original 1921 Great Songs of the Church, as well as in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson.  Both are found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann and Jack Boyd; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand.

     The song suggests that we should joyfully praise God for a number of reasons.

I. Stanza 1 implies that we should praise God because we live on the earth created by Him
“All people that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
Him serve with mirth, His praise forth tell; Come ye before Him and rejoice.”
 A. All people that on earth do dwell should praise God because the whole earth is the Lord’s: Ps. 24.1
 B. One way to express this praise is to sing to the Lord with cheerful voice: Ps. 33.1-3
 C. Another way to express our praise is to serve Him with mirth: Ps. 72.8-11

II. Stanza 2 says that we should praise God because He made us without our aid
“Know that the Lord is God indeed; Without our aid He did us make;
We are His flock, He doth us feed, And for His sheep He doth us take.”
Some versions begin, “The Lord, ye know, is God indeed.”
 A. The Lord, Jehovah, is God alone: Ps. 96.4-6
 B. Those who believe the Bible understand that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by this great God: Ps. 139.14
 C. Therefore, as His creation, He wants us to be His people.  The original read “folck,” an old spelling of folk.  However, since the stanza also mentions sheep, someone inadvertently printed “flock” instead, and this has remained ever since: Ps. 95.6-7

III. Stanza 3 adds that we should praise God because He alone is worthy of our praise.
“O enter then His gates with joy, Within His courts His praise proclaim;
Let thankful songs your tongues employ, O bless and magnify His holy name.”
Other books read, “O enter then His gates with praise, Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His name always; For it is seemly so to do.”
 A. We should praise Him as we enter His gates with joy: Ps. 9.14, 122.1-2
 B. We should praise Him as we stand in His courts: Ps. 65.1-4
 C. We bless and magnify His name because He alone is holy and righteous: Ps. 7.17

IV. Stanza 4 concludes that we should praise God because He is good.
“Because the Lord our God is good, His mercy is forever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood, And shall from age to age endure.”
Some versions begin, “For why?  The Lord, our God, is good.”
 A. All the blessings that we enjoy in this life remind us that the Lord is good: Ps. 34.8
 B. One of those blessings is His great mercy to sinful mankind: Ps. 101.1
 C. Another is His truth which has always stood and will always stand: Ps. 117.1-2

CONCL.:  The psalm and the song both encourage us to
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
(There should be no “s” on host; “hosts” does not rhyme with “Ghost.”)
     It is interesting to sit down with a Bible open to Ps. 100, a songbook open to this hymn, and compare the two.  Back when this song was written, it was common in most non-Catholic churches to sing only metrical versions of the Old Testament Psalms.  Nowhere does the Bible teach that we must use only the Psalms in our worship, but we would do well to include them because of their reverence, devotion, and praise to God.  In this way our hearts can be filled with joyful praise as we join our voices together with “All People That On Earth Do Dwell.”

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