October 19, 2017

A Hymn for Ordinary Time (12): Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Joachim Neander, 1650-1680

By Chaplain Mike

One of Bach’s cantatas for Trinity 12 takes a different form. Cantata BWV 137 creates variations on the five verses of Joachim Neander’s great hymn, “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren,” which English hymn singers know as, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”

This happens to be one of my favorite hymns, so it is a special delight to meditate on Bach’s rendition. The overall impression of the piece is like that of a small stream that grows in depth and fullness as it moves toward the sea. The melody becomes more and more prominent as the cantata unfolds, until the chorale of the final verse, where the hymn is heard in all its glory.

But whether one listens to Bach’s marvelous rendition, or sings it in a small congregation on a Sunday morning, few hymn texts are so rich in assurance of God’s providential love and care for his creation and his people.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty!

• • •

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;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

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 can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

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.

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    This is one of the more common entrance hymns for Mass at St Boniface.

  2. Got to pick hymns last Sunday for a guest preaching appearance and chose this one–a favorite of mine too.

  3. The Guy from Knoxville says:

    One of my all time favorite hymns to sing and play – especially on organ which gives this hymn such a majestic, powerful sound and impact and the text is all praise to God for all aspects of life and for life itself! Thanks for posting on it CM.

  4. Don’t forget to check out the rendition by Redemption Hill Music. Google them and download the song for free. Its not quite on par with Bach, but maybe a lot more like your church may be capable of.

  5. We sang this last week at my RC parish. We sing if often, so much so it is sung well by the congragation led by a average cantor and organ. It is also one of my favorite hymns.