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HYMN FOR PENTECOST 10 Praise, my Soul, the King of Heaven

Jesus , the disciples and the boy with five loves and two fish Bernardo Strozzi

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!

MEDITATION (a reworking of a previous blog)

There really aren't many hymns on the feeding of the five thousand. Most hymns we use for that lesson are general, like this one. We just sang it at the funeral of my oldest colleague Roy Harrisville, who died at 101.

A general hymn of praise, it has images from Psalm 23 and 103, where God is the one who shepherds and sees to it that we are fed. A miracle that is. The people are hungry, the disciples tell Jesus, and he asks them what they have and all they have is five loaves and two fishes. Almost nothing.

Jesus shows them with God nothing is impossible. One of the mysteries of faith is that we rarely understand this until we need something or are struggling with something that drives us to ask for something we don't have. Need really speaks to our helplessness. We turn to God and then we see what God is able to do. It is trouble and sorrow that are the handmaids of faith. We know it, when suddenly in a time of desperation, we cry out for help. Luther thought struggle was necessary to a living faith. When we think we are self-sufficient we are a danger to ourselves and society. We, in a sense, become our own Gods.

The late Queen Elizabeth II used this at her wedding and it became something of a royal psalm. 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.

If God does not rule over the earthly king, as we read in the Book of Judges, chaos comes. Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, scholar of medieval Norwegian Law, has written about the legal tradition 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.

Worshiping the golden calf Woodcut from Luther's Catechism

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.

So we teach and sing this hymn with joy that we can bow before our King and Creator whose miracles every day nourish and sustain us as Jesus did for the crowd when he fed them. 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!


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.

A tribute from Goss inscribed to his student Arthur Sullivan

John Goss was sent to London to sing in the Chapel Royal where he suffered a harsh teacher. who would not let him learn to play the organ. Despite that he 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. His gentle spirit and mild nature made him beloved by his colleagues and students, such as Arthur Sullivan and John Stainer.


Westminster Abbey Choir

Jubilee service for Queen Elizabeth II in St. Pauls

Golden Wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Duke Philip

Rob Charles at the Organ

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