560

We Praise You, O God

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

This hymn of praise combines present and past to give hope for the future: we humbly and thankfully sing God's praise (st. 1), we praise God for his protection throughout our lives (st. 2), and we go forward under God's guiding hand (st. 3).
 
Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The best-loved expressions of praise for God’s care-taking work of his children comes from the familiar words of Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 1: “My only comfort in life and death [is] that I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil...Because I belong to him, Christ by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes we wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
 

This great truth is explained more completely by Belgic Confession, Article 20. God has given his Son to die for us “…by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him, we might have immortality and eternal life.” And in Article 21, “…He endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.” For this redemptive work we give praise and adoration.

560

We Praise You, O God

Tune Information

Name
KREMSER
Key
C Major
Meter
12.11.12.11

Recordings

560

We Praise You, O God

Hymn Story/Background

This hymn of praise combines present and past to give hope for the future: we humbly and thankfully sing God's praise (st. 1), we praise God for his protection throughout our lives (st. 2), and we go forward under God's guiding hand (st. 3).
 
The text was written at the request of J. Archer Gibson, organist at Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Gibson asked Julia Buckley Cady Cory to write a text to the tune KREMSER to replace the older text associated with that tune, "We Gather Together." The new hymn was first sung at Thanksgiving Day services in 1902 at the Brick Presbyterian Church and Church of the Covenant, both in New York City. It was first published in Hymns of the Living Church (1910).
 
The tune KREMSER owes its origin to a sixteenth-century Dutch folk song "Ey, wilder den wilt." Later the tune was combined with the Dutch patriotic hymn 'Wilt heden nu treden" in Adrianus Valerius's Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck, published posthumously in 1626. 'Wilt heden nu treden," which celebrated Dutch freedom from Spanish rule, was always popular in the Netherlands, but gained international popularity through an arrangement by Eduard Kremser in his Sechs Altniederlandische Volkslieder (1877) for men's voices. This collection of six songs in German translation from Valerius's anthol­ogy was the source of the older English text, 'We Gather Together." Keep a firm but stately tempo with strong, solid organ registration.
 
Asked to write new words for the KREMSER tune, Julia C. Cory Cady penned this text. It has become a great hymn for Thanksgiving services—one which not only praises God for his redemptive care of our lives in the past but also expresses confidence in God’s providence for future years.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Julia Buckley Cady Cory (b. New York, NY, 1882; d. Englewood, NJ, 1963) was the daughter of a prominent New York architect, J. Cleveland Cady. Her father was also a Sunday school superintendent and amateur hymnologist. Partly because of his influence Julia began to write hymns at an early age. She was a member of the Brick Presbyterian Church; after moving to Englewood, New Jersey, she joined the First Presbyterian Church. She married Robert Haskell Cory in 1911.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

A. Valerius (b. 1575; d. 1625) was a Dutch poet and composer. He worked as the Toll and Customs Controller for Veere, the Netherlands, and was later appointed to the City Council. A wealthy businessman, it is perhaps surprising then that much of his poetry deals with peasant life; Valerius spent thirty years collecting folk melodies to match his poetry. The rest of his poetry revolves around the Dutch war of Independence, and therefore his poetry holds great significance for mirroring Dutch nationalism and culture. 
— Laura de Jong

Song Notes

What might be most interesting about this hymn is what it is not. It isn’t a song of praise and thankgiving for the undending good gifts God gives us. It isn’t a naïve song about how beautiful life is all the time. On the flip side, this is a hymn of thankgiving that very honestly raises the question of suffering. In the second verse, we sing, “through life’s storm and tempest our guide you have been; when perils o’ertake us, you never forsake us, and with your help, O Lord, our battles we win.” We can’t say that life is all peaches and cream. We can’t gather together on a Sunday morning blissfully unaware of the sickness, death, sorrow, bullying, and famine that pervade our land. But we can gather together to praise the God who does not desert us in the midst of these heartaches. We can, and we should, come with hearts and voices lifted up before the one who suffered much so that we could have, in the midst of our trials, the fullness of life.
— Laura de Jong
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