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Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The God who was active in providing his Son for our redemption, has also been active in the course of history and in the lives of his people. His activity in the course of history began when he created all things. Belgic Confession, Article 12 teaches that God, “when it seemed good to him, created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing, by the Word—that is to say, by the Son.” In addition, “God created human beings from the dust of the earth and made and formed them in his image and likeness.”
 
His activity also includes his constant care for all he has created. “…He watches over us with fatherly care, sustaining all creatures under his lordship” (Belgic Confession, Article 13). Additionally, God reveals himself by this “creation, preservation and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book...” (Belgic Confession, Article 2).
 

We also believe that God’s mighty acts are revealed “in the unfolding of covenant history…witnessing to the news that Our World Belongs to God and he loves it deeply” (Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 33). Primary among these actions in the unfolding of covenant history is “the long road of redemption to reclaim the lost as his people and the world as his kingdom” (paragraph 18). As God’s people observe his work in their lives and in history they respond with praise and adoration.

Tune Information

Name
LOBE DEN HERREN
Key
F Major or modal
Meter
14.14.4.7.8

Hymn Story/Background

Loosely based on Psalm 103:1-6 and Psalm 150, with echoes from other psalms, this is a strong hymn of praise to our covenant God, who heals, provides for, and defends us. Let "all that has life and breath" sing praise to the Lord! According to the American hymnologist and composer Austin Lovelace, the exuberance of the text is matched by its "galloping dactylic rhythm."
 
Joachim Neander wrote this German chorale of five stanzas and published it in his Glaub und Liebesubung (1680). Stanzas 1 through 3 in the Psalter Hymnal are a translation by Catherine Winkworth of the original stanzas 1, 2, and 4; these are taken from her Chorale Book for England (1863). Stanza 4 is an anonymous translation.
 
The tune, LOBE DEN HERREN is originally from the Stralsund, Germany, Ander Theil des Erneuerten Gesangbuch, Part II (1665), where it was published with the text "Hast du denn, Liebster, dein Angesicht gänzlich verborgen." Neander altered the tune in 1680 to fit his own text, and his German incipit generated the name LOBE DEN HERREN. A magnificent tune in bar form (AAB), LOBE DEN HERREN is one of the finest and most popular tunes of the Lutheran repertoire. J.S. Bach used the tune in cantatas 57 and 137; a great variety of composers have created chorale preludes on it as well, testifying to the tune's enduring strength and usefulness.
 
The tune consists of two very long phrases at the beginning (probably the longest in all popular hymnody) matched by three shorter phrases at the end, with a well-positioned high note for climax. Sing it with rhythmic clarity, especially on the repeating melody notes. Use a strong full registration on the organ (with some bright mixtures and/or reeds); keep the rhythmic energy moving!
 
The descant was composed by Craig S. Lang.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Before writing this hymn, Joachim Neander (b. Bremen, Germany, 1650; d. Bremen, 1680) had scoffed at his religious upbringing and led a careless, licentious life as a student in Bremen. One Sunday in 1670 he and his friends attended a service at St. Martin’s Church—mainly to criticize and mock the preacher.  However, he came under the spell of Theodore Under-Eyck’s preaching and was converted from his wayward life. Enamored with Pietism, Neander associated with the Pietist leader Spener in Frankfurt. In 1674 Neander became headmaster of the Latin School in Düsseldorf and conducted pastoral duties in the Calvinistic congregation. But his Pietist leanings prompted him to organize separate church services and to abstain from the Lord’s Supper. These practices forced the authorities to suspend him in 1677. After recanting his views, Neander returned to his ordinary duties.  But he was no longer happy in Düsseldorf, and he gladly accepted the opportunity to become Under-Eyck’s assistant at St. Martin’s Church in Bremen in 1679. He died soon afterward of tuberculosis. Neander loved nature and would often go for long walks. In fact, the valley of Düssel near Mettmann was named Neanderthal after him; in 1856 a skeleton of a “Neanderthal man” was found there, and that coincidence has produced a number of apocryphal stories about Neander. He wrote about sixty hymn texts and some tunes, published in Alpha und Omega (1680, expanded posthumously, 1689).
— Bert Polman

Catherine Winkworth (b. Holborn, London, England, 1827; d. Monnetier, Savoy, France, 1878) is well known for her English translations of German hymns; her translations were polished and yet remained close to the original. Educated initially by her mother, she lived with relatives in Dresden, Germany, in 1845, where she acquired her knowledge of German and interest in German hymnody. After residing near Manchester until 1862, she moved to Clifton, near Bristol. A pioneer in promoting women's rights, Winkworth put much of her energy into the encouragement of higher education for women. She translated a large number of German hymn texts from hymnals owned by a friend, Baron Bunsen. Though often altered, these translations continue to be used in many modern hymnals. Her work was published in two series of Lyra Germanica (1855, 1858) and in The Chorale Book for England (1863), which included the appropriate German tune with each text as provided by Sterndale Bennett and Otto Goldschmidt. Winkworth also translated biographies of German Christians who promoted ministries to the poor and sick and compiled a handbook of biographies of German hymn authors, Christian Singers of Germany (1869).
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Craig S. Lang (b. Hastings, New Zealand, 1891; d. London, England, 1971). Lang was educated at Clifton College, Bristol, England, and earned his D.Mus. at the Royal College of Music in London. Throughout his life he was an organist and a music educator as well as a composer of organ, piano, and choral works. Lang was also music editor of The Public School Hymn Book (1949). He named many of his hymn tunes after Cornish villages.
— Bert Polman

Song Notes

The last psalm in the Bible, Psalm 150, ends with this invitation: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” German composer Joachim Neander gave us words to do just that when he wrote his most well-known hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Hymnologist John Julian declares this to be “a magnificent hymn of praise to God, perhaps the finest production of its author, and of the first rank in its class” (Dictionary of Hymnology). And indeed, this is a hymn that has stood the test of time (over 400 years) to remain one of the most beloved praise hymns in the Church. As we sing these words, we join with the voices and languages of millions who have gone before us, and those across the globe, to sing these great words of thanksgiving and honor to the God who created us, protects us, and befriends us. 
— Bert Polman
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