All Creatures of our God and King
w/m - St. Francis of Assisi
All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
O praise Him, Alleluia
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along
O praise Him, Alleluia
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice
Ye lights of evening find a voice
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
And all ye men of tender heart
Forgiving others, take your part
O sing ye, alleluia
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear
Praise God and on him cast your care
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Let all things their Creator bless
And worship Him in humbleness
O praise Him, Alleluia
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
And praise the Spirit, three in one
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
As we continue our series of the favorite hymns ever sung by God’s church, this one is number 8. It was written in 1225 in Italy, and other than “Be thou My Vision” which was written in the 6th century, it is the oldest one in our list. You may ask how these songs have endured for so long, and that is because they were written by skilled musicians to be timeless. These melodies are instantly recognizable, easily teachable, and aren’t dated by the recording styles of the day. There is a place for songs that speak specifically to today, but there is also a place for songs that speak across generations.
All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and with us sing, O praise Him, Alleluia. Throughout God’s Word, especially in the psalms, we see the call for all of creation to cry out in praise to the Lord (Psalm 96:11-12 is a good example). Now, we know that these creatures and created objects do not have a physical, literal voice. Nor do they have the will of man, but they do speak. “The heavens declare the glory of God”. All one needs to do is look at what God has made and, as they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” We can know that there is a Creator by what is created. Songwriters use “poetic license” the way God uses anthropomorphisms in Scripture. Often, as in this song, we will attribute human qualities to a created object, (the will, a voice) to sing praise to God.
Thou burning sun with golden beam, thou silver moon with softer gleam, O praise Him. God created the sun, moon, and the stars on the fourth day of creation. They give praise to God every time they appear in the sky and function exactly the way God intended.
Thou rushing wind that art so strong, ye clouds that sail in Heaven along, O praise Him. Jesus said in John 3 that, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” The wind seems completely random, but there is nothing random with God. The wind blows exactly where it is intended to blow and the clouds move and give rain exactly where God means for them to.
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice. Ye lights of evening find a voice. The very first day of creation, before anything else was made, God made day and night, evening and morning. From the beginning, this cycle has been constant (with the exception of one day during Joshua’s time). Again, it gives praise to the Creator when the creation does what it was created to do. And all ye men of tender heart, forgiving others, take your part. This third verse speaks now directly to us. We can’t rightfully praise and serve God, when we have an unforgiving attitude. Even when people have wronged us and treated us unfairly, it is our job to forgive. Then, regardless of their response, we can rightly join in true worship.
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, praise God and on him cast your care. There are always times of pain and hurt. The cares of this life will weigh us down. It is part of living among sinful people in a fallen world. But when we cast our care on Him, it frees us up to focus on the worship of the Almighty.
Let all things their Creator bless and worship Him in humbleness. One of the Greek words translated “Worship” is proskuneo. It means to kneel or bow down. One who is humble is in the right position spiritually to worship.
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, and praise the Spirit, three in one. One of the salvific doctrines that a true Christian must have right is a belief in the Triune God. All three persons of the Trinity deserve our praise and worship. We don’t need to, and can’t fully understand the concept of the Trinity, but as I’ve often quoted, “Define the Trinity and lose your mind… deny the Trinity and lose your soul.” The one God in three Persons deserves the eternal praise from all the creatures of our God and King.
Be Thou My Vision
w/m - Traditional
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
Be thou my vision is a 6th century hymn that has become the 7th most popular hymn of all time. It combines everything that makes for a timeless classic for the church, a beautiful Irish melody that you cannot get our of your head as well as a great blend of theology and supplication.
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light. Although the lyrics may seem a little ancient in their phrasing (or a little “Yoda” for those of you that need a pop culture reference), a little time spent reading through them will make for a wonderful prayer. It is the singular focus on God as the guide and director of our heart that makes this hymn so powerful. The worshiper calls on God to be the only source of light and direction in his life.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one. God is our source of wisdom, His Word, the one source of perfect knowledge. When we are His, in Christ, He is our Father and He loves us as His Children. He indwells us and we are one with Him forever. There is no greater, safer, more secure place to be.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise. Thou mine inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art. Boy, there sure are a lot of things in this world to draw our eyes away from God. A lot of other circumstances, both pleasurable and distasteful can become our “vision” if we are not careful. Riches can be a blessing or a curse. Man’s praise can spur us on to greater ministry, or make us focus on self. Nothing this world has to offer can match the eternal legacy of faithfulness to Christ.
High King of heaven, my victory won. May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, O Ruler of all. Who can compare to God? It seems like such a rhetorical question, but is it really? While we would never actually make a list of things we believe should govern our walk above our Creator and Lord, we often live as though God should take a back seat sometimes. May it never be. What we do in service for our King has eternal reward. What we do for our own pleasure will burn up at the judgment seat. Whatever we face, good or bad in this world, let our hearts cry out to God for guidance, help, and to forever be our vision.
Praise to the Lord the Almighty
w/m - Joachim Neander, Catherine Winkworth, Straisund Gesangbuch
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,
Join me in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
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
Who with His love doth befriend thee
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 forever adore Him.
Over and over scripture calls on the people of God to Praise the Lord… and not just in the psalms. It is well over 130 times, so God must not only be worthy of our praise, but must take delight when His people do praise Him. This hymn (the 6th most popular of all time) is a great example of a “God-focused” song. It is about what God can do, has done, and will do.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! God not only created this world and sustains it with His almighty power, but loves us so much that He gives us “every spiritual blessing” and many earthly blessings as well. He never promised us perfect physical health, or even good health for that matter, but is the true source of the health of our soul. Any emotional therapy that we receive that does not include the work of God is empty. Just as any salvation we may seek apart from Him is built upon no foundation and will crumble in the end.
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near. Join me in glad adoration. This is a great example of a line that the congregation sings horizontally. While our praise is aimed at God alone, this is an exhortation to the person standing next to you to join you in multiplying that praise.
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth, Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! I have a hard enough time balancing my checkbook or herding a couple of kids around a store. God sustains and reigns sovereignly over every single action in the universe at every single second of time. That is how much God is higher than us. All we can do is just wonder in awe of His greatness. Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth? Every step we take, every desire we see fulfilled in this life, is ordained by God. While we have the free will to obey or not obey, God uses it all in His perfect plan to bring about our good and His glory.
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee! Every blessing comes from God. All the fruits of our labors are by His hand, and every moment of peace and protection we experience are graces He gives us. That’s why the verse continues: Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do Who with His love doth befriend thee. Praise God today for His love for you.
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 forever adore Him. I can’t wait to stand in the throne room of heaven and join my voice with the saints of all the ages and the heavenly spirit beings in praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In my most sanctified times here on earth, when I am most overwhelmed by God’s goodness, my praise still falls so short. Maybe then, when freed from this body of death, I will adequately be able to give praise to the Lord, the Almighty!
It is Well with my Soul
w/m - Horatio Gates Spafford, Philip Paul Bliss
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
Tho' Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul
My sin O the bliss of this glorious tho't
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord O my soul
And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so it is well with my soul
“It is Well With My Soul” is the fourth most popular hymn of all time (Behind Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, and Holy Holy Holy). It is the quintessential hymn of praise in the midst of trial, and most everyone knows the incredible story behind it (If not, I’ll let you do some research on the web).
So many of us have sung this song during our trials and have been encouraged, but this is a difficult song to sing. Not because the melody is challenging, but because if we really speak these words in testimony, it is a momentous task to live up to.
When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.” “Whatever my lot”… that’s all encompassing. While it is true that God will never give you more than He can handle, He often gives us more than we can handle… in our own strength. That is why it is crucial to rest in His.
I have used this illustration many times. When I was in New York City a few years back, looking up at the buildings right next to me, with the clouds moving, it looked as if the building was coming down on me. It can actually be quite frightening. But I have flown over cities in an airplane, and those same skyscrapers now appeared like monopoly hotels. The size of the building did not change, just my perspective. Learn to look through God’s sovereign eyes and rest in His power and you can have peace regardless of how big the trial is.
Tho' Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come, let this blest assurance control: that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul. Many Christians wrongly blame Satan for our trials, and while he may be used to inflict them, he has no power or authority but that which is given him by God. So God is the primary cause and has the primary purpose and plan for the trials. We may lose the whole world… but gain our souls. Christ’s blood does not guarantee the absence of trial, but it does guarantee assurance through it, if we rely on His omnipotence.
My sin O the bliss of this glorious tho’t… my sin not in part but the whole is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord O my soul! This verse may seem disconnected from a song about trials. Yes, our sins are paid for by Christ and we won’t have to pay for them in the lake of fire ourselves, but what does that have to do with the day to day trials of life? The answer is everything.
So many times we read stories like David and Goliath and we insert ourselves as the heroes of the story fighting our “Giants”. We too often take the glory from that battlefield with an, “I can do it” attitude, when the real lesson to be learned is that I CAN’T do it. Without Him, we can do nothing. There is no greater “Giant” in our lives than sin and death, and we are powerless against it, slaves to it. God is the hero who conquered sin and defeated death when we couldn’t. If He can do that, then we can say in the midst of these comparatively tiny problems, “It is well with my soul”.
And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight. The clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, even so it is well with my soul. One day, the pains and hurts of this life will be gone. All of our tears will be wiped away for we will see Him as He is and we will be like Him. Our minds, wills, and emotions will all be released from the curse of sin that still surrounds our flesh and all will be well with our soul forever and ever.
w/m - John Newton
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers toils and snares
I have already come
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun
Former slave trader, turned Anglican clergyman, John Newton penned this esteemed hymn that tells of God’s transformative power in the life of the depraved sinner. It has been named the most popular hymn of all time. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. To understand just how amazing God’s grace is, we first must understand the human condition: Unrighteous, without understanding, not seeking after God, gone astray, unable to come to the Savior without the grace of God and drawing of the Holy Spirit, sold under sin, dead in trespasses, in utter rebellion against the Creator. We truly were wretched, and that is what makes the grace of God all the more amazing.
I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see. Jesus is compared to the Good Shepherd who seeks for that lost lamb of His fold until He finds it. In John 9, Jesus healed a man born blind. When questioned, it was clear that he was not healed because he “had enough faith”, because he said, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
It was only later that the man exercised faith in the one who healed him, “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.” Then Jesus made the analogy to spiritual blindness, “Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. What a great line! This line tells of both Law and Grace. Law, because it pointed out to Newton his sin and gave him a godly guilt over it, and Grace, because it taught the mercy of God in the saving work of Christ.
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed. For by grace we have been saved through faith… and that is not of ourselves… it is the gift of God. From the perspective of man, we see the grace of God when we take that step of faith, but we love Him because He first loved us.
Through many dangers toils and snares I have already come. ’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home. Regardless of our past transgressions, even the neglect of so great a salvation, grace and forgiveness is always available. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. The thing about grace is, when God pours it out in the saving faith of an unbeliever, that grace is not like the grace of other religions that only saves partially and temporarily, it will carry us all the way to glorification.
When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God's praise than when we've first begun. They say, when writing a song, make sure your last line of the verse is the “killer line”, the one that really is well written and grabs you… one you can’t forget. This one could be the best of all time. What a thought! A thousand years seems like forever down here… in fact, sometimes, an hour seems like forever. But even after such a long span of time, it does not diminish eternity at all. What a glorious thought… infinity spent in the presence of the one who showed us such amazing grace!
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for over 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship, not only in their home church (Mt. Airy Bible Church), but around the country. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.