Wayne S. Walker

“Praise ye Him, sun and moon; praise Him all His hosts” (Psalm 148.3)

     INTRO.:  A song which encourages us to praise the Lord and actually
expresses praise for Him as well is “Hallelujah!  Praise Jehovah!” (#2 in
“Hymns for Worship Revised”).  The text is a paraphrase of Psalm 148.1-13
made by an unknown author.  It first appeared in the “Sabbath School
Psalmist, Prepared expressly for use in the Families, Sabbath- Schools
and Congregations of the United Presbyterian Church” published in 1866 at
Philadelphia, PA by James M. Ferguson.  Originally in eight four-line
stanzas, it was used in “The Psalter” of the United Presbyterian Church
in 1887 with a tune that made it four eight-line stanzas.

      The adaptation of the text was likely made and the tune (Ainos or
Kirkpatrick) was obviously composed both by William James Kirkpatrick
(1831-1921).  Following the four eight-line stanza format, Kirkpatrick
used stanzas 1-3 and then made the first half of stanza 4 the refrain,
publishing it around 1893.  The omitted portion reads:
“He His people’s power exalteth All His saints to praise accord;
Jacob’s seed, a people near Him:  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!”
Among churches of Christ, this hymn apparently was introduced in the 1921
“Great Songs of the Church” (No. 1), edited by E. L. Jorgenson, and has
become extremely popular.

     The song encourages everything created to give praise to God.

I. Stanza 1 says that all the hosts of heaven should praise the Lord
(Psalm 148.1-4)
 A. All His angels are encouraged to give Him praise: Rev. 5.11-13
 B. Inanimate though they be, even the sun, moon, and stars give praise
to God by their very existence: Psalm 19.1-4
 C. The same is true of the floods (waters) above the sky.  This language
is poetic, so we should be careful not to make too much of it, but it is
interesting that in the creation account Moses wrote that there were
waters above the firmament: Gen. 1.6-.7   Many Bible-believing geologists
take to mean that in the early days the earth was enveloped in a layer of
water vapor similar to that of Venus.  But the flood account says that
the windows of heaven were opened when it began to rain forty days and
nights: Gen. 7.11.  The same Bible-believing geologists suggest that this
indicates that the layer of water vapor around the earth condensed to
form the water necessary for the flood.  If this theory is true, it would
help to explain the great climatic changes on earth.

II. Stanza 2 says that all the forces of nature should praise God (Psalm
 A. Just as anything that a person makes shows off the skill of its
creator, the earth itself praises Jehovah because He made it: Psalm
 B. Floods, hail, snow, and vapors of the water cycle all show God’s
wisdom in providing for the needs of life on earth: Isa. 55.8-10
 C. Even the stormy winds that hear Him call are part of His provisions
of nature for our benefit: Eccl. 1.6

III. Stanza 3 says that all forms of life on earth should praise God
(Psalm 148.9-12)
 A. The first is plant life, fruit trees and cedars that grow on the
hills and mountains high, which God made on the third day: Gen. 1.11-13
 B. Next is animal life, creeping things and beasts and cattle, and the
birds that in the heavens fly, which God made on the fifth and sixth
days: Gen. 1.20-25
 C. And finally is all  mankind, whether kings of earth and princes
great, young men and maidens, or aged men and children small, whom God
created on the 6th day and are the crowing glory of His creation: Gen.
1.26-28, Psalm 8.1-9

CONCL.:  The chorus (taken from Psalm 148.13) well concludes the
preceding thoughts by saying that all the things mentioned previously
should give praises to Jehovah for His name alone is high.  Sometime,
when you have a few minutes, take the songbook and open your Bible to
Psalm 148.  Read slowly through the Psalm and compare the wording in the
scriptures to the various parallel phrases in the song.  It is a very
powerful hymn, and there is something special about using the very words
that God Himself had written as we sing, “Hallelujah!  Praise Jehovah!”

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