“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”

I have a vision for a hymns record, in which I record a bunch of hymns with some of the kick-ass musicians I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my capacity as music director (worship leader?  I never know what to call myself.  I prefer “music director” cause it sounds less Chris Tomlin-y) at Dwell Church.  My elevator pitch is:  “Fanny Crosby meets Bob Dylan and the Band in West Saugerties.”  Until that record happens (and in preparation), I’m going to record stuff on my iPhone and put it on Soundcloud.

The latest one I did is “Praise to the Lord the Almighty,” with vocals, acoustic guitar, and harmonica.

It’s of one of my favorite hymns, an English version of Joachim Neander’s German chorale “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren,” published in 1680. The music was probably based on an old folk tune. The text paraphrases Psalm 103 and Psalm 150. (source: Wikipedia).

A Dictionary of Hymnology” lists at least 13 English translations of the text, but the only one I’ve ever heard is the translation by Catherine Winkworth, published in 1863. Apparently Ms. Winkworth inserted a slightly more Victorian ethos into her text (referencing “health” and “work,” where the original author apparently didn’t, and removing his exhortation to awaken the psaltery and harp). Still, she was faithful to the psalms and I think she did a pretty good job. (even though her line “Gladly for aye we adore him” is hard to sing without sounding like a pirate. somebody changed it to “Gladly fore’er we adore him” which isn’t better).

I’ll post her full translation below. She had a couple of dark stanzas (5 and 6) which I only discovered today (after making this recording), having never heard them in 37+ years of singing this hymn. Somehow these stanzas seem richer and more fitting than the others. Given today’s world of persistent unrest and unbridled violence, from Ferguson to Fallujah, I think they ought to be re-inserted. God have Mercy.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

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.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

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.

Recorded on my iPhone at home.

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