HYMN 142 Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven
Norwegian: Himlens konge vil vi prise
Text: Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1841). Tune: John A. Goss (1800-1880)
1. Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; To his feet your tribute bring. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Evermore his praises sing. Alleluia, alleluia! Praise the everlasting King!
2. Praise him for his grace and favor To his people in distress. Praise him, still the same as ever, Slow to chide, and swift to bless. Alleluia, alleluia! Glorious in his faithfulness!
3. Fatherlike he tends and spares us; Well our feeble frame he knows. In his hand he gently bears us, Rescues us from all our foes. Alleluia, alleluia! Widely yet his mercy flows!
4. Angels, help us to adore him; You behold him face to face. Sun and moon, bow down before him, Dwellers all in time and space. Alleluia, alleluia! Praise with us the God of grace!
This was sung at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1947. It was also the opening hymn at the funeral of George Herbert Walker Bush. One of the best loved English hymns, it has taken its place in the favorite English hymn constellation as something of a requirement in festival worship services in England.
What I like best about using that hymn at such occasions is the clear statement that even kings, queens, presidents and potentates owe worship to a higher power, Jesus, the King of heaven. Alexis de Tocqueville noted in his classic Democracy in America that a system like America's cannot flourish if people do not have a notion that one day they will have to give account to their God for their deeds. If there is no accounting to give, then, anything goes. Thus the importance of religion to the republic.
It is an old Christian notion. If Jesus does not rule over the earthly king, chaos comes. Last fall Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, scholar of medieval Norwegian Law, spoke at Mindekirken about the legal tradition in Norwegian law established by King Magnus VI in 1274. All legal decisions had to be made in the presence of “the four daughters of God,” from Psalm 85, Truth, Justice, Mercy and Peace. Every judge had to know that his rulings were always made in the sight of God under the eyes of the Daughters of God.
G. K. Chesterton said once "The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank." The necessity to give thanks means we owe someone, that we are not our own sovereigns. This should give us humility. It makes us treat our families and friends better to know there is one watching to see what we are doing.
It really is about obedience to the First Commandment, "Thou Shalt have no other Gods before me. What does this mean? We should fear and love God above all things." Martin Luther taught that if people could have kept the First commandment, and honored God above all things, none of the rest of the story of redemption would have been necessary.
But, of course, from Adam and Eve, to the Israelites, to us today, is one dreary story of people worshiping other gods, themselves or idols like a golden calf, even as Moses is on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law of God! It is a shocking, familiar, story, one we have seen over and over again.
So we teach and sing this hymn with joy that we can bow before our King and Creator. He deserves all our tribute and worship for we are frail and unable to rule ourselves successfully. With joy we want to have all creation worship with us, from the angels, even the sun and moon, all created beings, who owe their very existence to the Lord of heaven. The hymn expresses our right relationship to the Creator, made possible by King Jesus. Worship him today with joy and praise!
HYMN INFO Henry F. Lyte, who also wrote "Abide with Me," broke through the notion that any paraphrase of a psalm was to be exact. This is his response to Psalm 103, using its concepts to shape a new hymn. Lyte was a gifted man, born in Ireland. He attended Trinity College in Dublin and received high honors there and considered going on for a medical degree, but then decided for Theology and the ministry. While serving in Cornwall, he suffered a profound spiritual experience that changed his ministry and drove him to write many hymns and poems and reflections on the poetry of others, especially the English poet Henry Vaughan.
John Goss was a gentle soul who came from a musical family. He was sent to London to sing in the Chapel Royal where he suffered a harsh teacher. A chorister he was not allowed to learn to play the organ. But he did and became one of the leading musicians of the English church during his life time, playing the organ at St. Paul's for much of the Victorian era. He taught harmony at the Royal Academy for many years and was known as the teacher of John Stainer. He confined his composing to ecclesiastical music. This is his most well known work.
LINKS Westminster Abbey Choir https://youtu.be/sx1eMwlDFb8
Jubilee service for Queen Elizabeth II in St. Pauls https://youtu.be/4d9RJMOP9Tw
Golden Wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Duke Philip https://youtu.be/RJPWgr7EVmM
Rob Charles at the Organ https://youtu.be/213AmHJrl_I