“PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY”

Wayne S. Walker

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm
103.2).

     INTRO.:  A hymn which reminds us to bless the Lord because of all
His benefits is “Praise To the Lord, the Almighty.”  The text, originally
in six stanzas, was written by Joachim Neander (1650-1680).  After a
rebellious youth in Bremen, Germany, he professed Christianity at age 20
and eventually became a minister at St. Martin’s Church.  Known as the
outstanding hymn writer of the German Reformed Church, he produced about
sixty hymns.  This one, based on Psalms 103 and 150, was first published
in his “A und Blaub Glaub-und Liebesubung” of 1679/1680, the year that he
died at age thirty of consumption.  The translation of five stanzas
(actually the original stanzas three and four were combined into a single
third stanza) was made by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878).  It appeared
in her 1863 “Chorale Book for England.”

     The tune (Lobe den Herren) was found in the second edition of the
“Ander Theil des erneuerten Gesangbuch” of Stralsund, published in 1665,
with another hymn “Hast du denn, Liebster,” by Ahasuerus Fritsch.  There
is the possibility that it is based on an old secular air composed by
Johann Flittner (1618-1678).  Neander himself adapted it for this hymn in
his book.  It was arranged in its present form for his Cantata No. 57 by
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  The modern harmonization was made by
William  Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875).  It is taken from the second
edition of Winkworth’s “Chorale Book for England” published in 1864.

     Among hymnbooks used by churches of Christ, the earliest one in
which I have found this hymn is the 1963 “Christian Hymnal” (#2, entitled
“Praise YE the Lord, the Almighty”) edited by J. Nelson Slater.  It was
also included in the 1975 supplement (#648) to the 1937 “Great Songs of
the Church No. 2″ originally edited by E. L. Jorgenson.  It is found in
some of the more recent hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s
church, such as the 1986 “Great Songs Revised” (#45) edited by Forrest M.
McCann, the 1992 “Praise for the Lord” (#534) edited by John P. Wiegand,
and the 1994 “Songs of Faith and Praise” (#91) edited by Alton H. Howard.

     The hymn suggests several reasons why we should praise the Lord.

I. According to stanza 1, we should praise the Lord because of who He is
“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.”
 A. He is the Almighty King of creation: Gen. 1.1, 17.1; Ps. 10.16
 B. He is the source of our health and salvation: Ps. 27.1, 42.11 (KJV)
 C. He is the one who dwells in the temple and alone is worthy of our
praise: Eph. 2.21-22

II. According to stanza 2, we should praise the Lord because of what He
is doing in the universe
“Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shieldeth (shelters) thee under His wings, yea so greatly sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen How thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?”
 A. The Lord reigns over all the universe: Ps. 96.10
 B. The Lord also sustains the universe through Christ: Col. 1.17, Heb.
1.3
 C. And the Lord providentially uses the things of the universe to
provide for our needs according to His will:  Jas. 1.17

III. According to stanza 3, we should praise the Lord because of what He
is doing in our lives
“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.”
 A. The Lord prospers and defends His people: Ps. 1.3, 62.2
 B. The Lord also grants His goodness and mercy to attend His people: Ps.
23.6
 C. And the Lord befriends those who become His people, so that He will
do for us even beyond that which we think or expect: Jn. 15.14-15, Eph.
3.20-21

IV. According to stanza 4, we should praise the Lord because of what He
has done for us
“Praise thou 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!”
 A. The Lord has made us fearfully and wonderfully: Ps. 139.14
 B. The Lord has also guided us with His loving hand: Ps. 31.3, 119.173
 C. And the Lord has spread His wings to protect us in grief: Ps. 17.8

V. According to stanza 5, we should praise the Lord because He is the One
who is worthy of all praise
“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.”
 A. He is worthy of praise by all that is within each one of us: Ps.
103.1
 B. He is also worthy of praise by all that has life and breath: Ps.
148.7-10
 C. And He is worthy of praise by His people, who should sound the Amen:
Ps. 106.48

     CONCL.:  John Julian in his monumental “Dictionary of Hymnology”
called this hymn “a magnificent hymn of praise to God, perhaps the finest
production its author, and of the first rank in its class.”  Over the
years, as I have occasionally been watching the television and channel
surfing, I have come across the choir and orchestra on Robert Schuller’s
“Hour of Power” rendering this hymn as an opening song.  Since I do not
watch the program regularly, I do not know if this is done on every show
or not.  I certainly wish to give absolutely no credence whatever to
choirs and orchestras in worship, nor to the false doctrine of Robert
Schuller.  However, whenever I hear such singing, unscriptural as it is,
I am reminded that God’s non-denominational people can and should use
these same grand old hymns in a scriptural manner as we seek to give
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”

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