Sunrise over the foothills near Seattle.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise the Almighty!

This morning was just right to offer to God today’s addition to our Practice of Praise. It is the well-beloved hymn, Praise to the Lord. As I was cleaning up from the morning coffee, I glanced out the kitchen window overlooking the carport, and caught a glimpse of some outrageously beautiful trees, shining with the rare sunshine of a NW morning. What an opportunity to burst forth in praise…

Hubby’s on an errand, and the folks downstairs aren’t home. So gorgeous, isn’t it, when we can be alone with the Father?

As I sang this favorite old hymn, my voice grew in volume. With each verse, my inhibitions let loose just a little bit more, and I finally I rather joined in with the organ in my head.

“An organ?” you ask.


The Majestic Organ

I’m grateful to report that I was raised in the church back in hymn-singing days. Our Lutheran church sang the great hymns of adoration every single Sunday. We’d sing at least four hymns, and more on communion Sundays.

Back then, there was no overhead screen, no worship band, not even a worship leader.

The organ was behind us, up in the organ loft in the back of the church. It was planned that way on purpose, to give worshippers a view of just the altar, and the cross, where our gaze could concentrate only upon the Holy.

You would want to arrive to service early to prepare. Every pew, had hymnals, and you could mark the mornings’ hymns to be ready. Each Sunday’s hymns were listed where you could see them, in the front, their hymn numbers placed, one on each line (in descending order) on a wooden gizmo made for that very purpose.

Find the hymn, mark the place with a giving envelopes, and you’re ready! When it’s time, just stand up, pull out the marker, and sing.

The congregation would stand as we heard the organist’s intro: the last stanza was played, indicating when to come in on that first verse.

No worship leader needed. Nobody was in the front at all, just the music, just the altar. Just fellow worshippers, and you, and God.

Our congregation always sang every verse. No skipping verses. These folks took hymn singing seriously. (After all, most hymns tell a story…why read only the 1st, 3rd, and 5th chapters of a book?)

Pulling Out The Stops

Our organist was quite talented, and you could tell that she truly enjoyed playing. I imagine that her favorite verse must have been the last one of every hymn, because that’s when she really let loose. Goodness, but that last verse was a treat.

She would play the last verse an octave higher, pull out all the stops, and let the gorgeous music flow down over the entire sanctuary, and up to God above. Her hands and her feet knew how to engage the keys and the pedals and make that gorgeous pipe organ flood the sanctuary with praise.

That triumphant, soaring loudness couldn’t help but encourage our voices to match, and we’d sing with her, matching her gusto.

Perhaps our worship was accompanied by heavenly hosts offering God their worship, too. I don’t know. I only know that it was amazing, perhaps a prelude to what it may be like one day as we worship Him in heaven.

Today’s addition to our Practice of Praise:

Verse 1:

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!

O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy light and salvation!

All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;

Join me in glad adoration!

Verse 2:

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,

Shelters thee under His wing, yeah, so gently sustaineth!

Hast thou not seen? All that is needful hath been

Granted in what He ordaineth.

Verse 3:

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.

Verse 4:

(Catch the organ ramping it up to majestic feats of inspirational wonder!)

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! Amen.

Joachim Neander

Like so many hymns, this one tells a story, following a template devised to bring us through some stages of worship. Catch how the author (a young German man, Joachim Neander, who wrote this one in about 1680) starts by acknowledging God as creator and savior.

The next verse rightfully acknowledges God’s provenance over nature, over our lives, and even over the difficulties we encounter. We are invited to recall His provision.

Praise to the Lord

We recognize His abundant care with this gorgeous line: “Shelters thee under His wing, yea so gently sustaineth.” Yes.

Even in our suffering, His presence is our provision.

His nearness becomes the shelter, gently sustaining us even amid dire circumstances.

This line is my favorite: “Hast thou not seen? All that is needful hath been granted in what He ordaineth.”

It reminds me of just Who is on the throne.

These hardships we face? They have already been witnessed by God, and He has allowed them for His purpose. We are reminded to trust.

Verse three focuses on God’s very real involvement in the stuff of every day. He is protecting, watching, and befriending us. So very personal, this God who attends us with goodness and mercy (Psalm 23).

Throughout this hymn, we are invited to ponder our close relationship with God, acknowledge His care, and offer our thanksgiving to the Lord who attends to us daily.

The Almighty

By the last stanza, we have arrived. We are now fully entering into the worship experience, flinging off our worries and cares, entering the throneroom itself. By now we are not looking at ourselves at all, but just gazing upon Jesus and His Father. Where in the first stanza we are invited to join the author in adoration, by the last stanza we, too, are gladly proclaiming that we will forever adore Him.

I hope you can take a few moments and lose yourself in His presence.

This YouTube video is done so well, complements from the folks in England — the Choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor. This rendition is really lovely. Many thanks to this group in the far-off UK.

Why not keep on praising? click on over to the Salty playlist.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, (Tune: Lobe den Herren - 4vv) [with lyrics for congregations]