Praise Ye the Lord, The Almighty by Joachim Neander 1650-1680
Translated by Cathrine Winkworth 1827-1878
Tune: Lobe den herren (composer unknown)
For a YouTube recording: http://youtu.be/AqdGw7qTSlU
1 Praise ye 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.
2 Praise ye the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reignth;
Sheltering thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustainth!
Hast thou not seen How they desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
3 Praise ye the Lord, who will 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 for to shade thee!
4 Praise ye 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.
This hymn is a free paraphrasing of Psalm 103: 1-6
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
A stronger call to praise the Lord would be hard to find in all of Christendom! The author, Joachim Neander lived but a short 30 years, dying from tuberculous, but within that period he became the most important hymn writer for the German Reformed Church. He wrote many hymns which are used in Lutheran and Reformed churches today. Neander had a difficult time during his short life and often sought refuge from his difficulties in the country side. He frequently wandered in the area around the Dussel River. This area became known as the Neanderthal (thal means “valley” in German) and in this area the proto humanoid skeletons of the Neanderthal were found.
In many of Neander’s poems we find a strong identification with creation as a starting point. In the very first phrase we are called to praise the King of the creation. The mention of “health” in the second phrase is an example of some of the liberties the translator took to make the text more “relevant” to what was currently of interest to the culture and is not mentioned in the original text.
The second stanza reiterates the declaration of the Lord’s sovereignty over all things. We are sheltered under his wing and sustains us in all of our needs and desires.
Again, in the third stanza it is the wisdom of the Lord which made us, given us health, and with his loving hand guided and protected us. Out of our grief he brings us relief and with his wing he shades us.
In the final stanza, everything within myself, my breath and life must declare his praises. And all of his people must also declare their adoration for Him, the creator and sustainer of us all!