From All That Dwell Below the Skies

Isaac Watts and Unknown

Old 100th:

Lasst uns erfreuen:

Duke Street:

  1. From all that dwell below the skies,
    Let the Creator’s praise arise;
    Let the Redeemer’s name be sung,
    Through every land, by every tongue.

    2. Eternal are thy mercies, Lord;
    eternal truth attends thy word.
    Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore,
    till suns rise and set no more.

    3. Your lofty themes, ye mortals, bring,
    In songs of praise divinely sing;
    The great salvation loud proclaim,
    And shout for joy the Savior’s name.

    4. In every land begin the song;
    To every land the strains belong;
    In cheerful sounds all voices raise,
    And fill the world with loudest praise

Isaac Watts Jr. “Those dreadful Psalms we have to sing every week! I hate them, they are like dead fish and everyone looks like a dead fish when they sing them! Who wrote these things anyhow?” To which Isaac Watts Sr. replies “If you think you can do a better job, then write your own! And leave me alone, I am so tired of listening to your endless complaining, honestly Junior!” And the rest, as they say is history! Junior, now referred to as Isaac or Watts, certainly had the intellectually capacity to write something. By the time of this conversation, or rather a form of this conversation, occurred, Watts had already mastered a half dozen languages and was soon to write a text book on logic.

He grew up in a household accustomed to putting actions behind their words. His father was a pastor at a “Dissenting Church” which meant one which was not affiliated with the state church and consequently faced legal ramifications for his beliefs. He ended up being imprisoned twice when he was a young father.

The Calvinist tradition in which Watts grew up in and spent his life working within, relied on the metrical translations of the Psalms  which came out of the Geneva Psalter. Since the goal was to maintain a fairly strict adherence to original Psalm, most of these translations were a bit awkward and stilted for singing. Watts reworked these Psalms but with more attention to poetic and graceful expression. Even such hymns as “Joy to the World” is on Psalm 98 and 96:11-12. It is estimated he wrote over 600 hymns and he provided the framework for hymns to be Biblically based without having to be directly quoting the Bible.

Watts wrote “From All That Dwell Below the Skies” as a paraphrase for Psalm 117 for “The Psalms of David, Imitated,” which he published in 1719. Initially it had only two stanzas and 1780 John Wesley or Robert Spence possibly, added two more stanzas.

Psalm 117 King James Version (KJV)

117 O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Praise ye the Lord.

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Here are some of my favorite Hymnals:

Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook:

Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: 

Broadman 1940 Hymnal:

Methodist 1939 Hymnal:

Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal:

Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin:

Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945

Book of Psalms for Singing (1912 Psalter is unavailable)

Hymns Ancient and Modern

Here are my new projects:

Trinity Hymnal 1960

Lutheran 1909 Hymnal

J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales


Dictionary of Hymnology:

American Hymns Old and New