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O Worship the King
Psalm 104:1-6
LYONS  |  Hymn History  |  Bible Passage
Author: From Psalm 104
Robert Grant, C., 1779-1838
Musician: J. Michael Haydn, 1737-1806

  Play MP3 • Click to listen to the music for this hymn.

O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His pow'r and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth, with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy pow'r hath founded of old,
Hath stablished it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light,
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.



HYMN HISTORY:

Everybody has heard of the great Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn, who lived from 1732-1809.

Haydn was one of the great composers of all time and is credited with, among other things, the invention of the modern string quartette.

Not many people, however, have heard of his equally musical brother, Johann Michael Haydn.

Both were the sons of a wheelwright who was also a great lover of music. He played the harp without knowing a note of music and when the boys were small he taught them to sing.

When Franz Joseph was only seven years old the chapel-master heard his weak but pleasant voice and put him in the choir at St. Stephens in Vienna.

There, until he was 18, he sang soprano, but then, his voice changed and his singing career ended. His younger brother, however, took his place and learned the same musical and composing skills.

Between the two of them, the brothers Haydn gave to the world some of the finest music ever to fall upon the ears of man.

Amongst other things, Johann Michael wrote some 360 pieces of music for the church.

He was past middle age and an accomplished composer when a child was born to a Member of Parliament in Scotland.

When he grew up, Robert Grant followed his father into Parliament and into the East India Company, of which his father was chairman. He too became a director of the company and was eventually appointed governor of Bombay and given a knighthood.

Mr. Grant Sr. had encouraged the sending of missionaries to India. His son, Robert did more. He supported the missionaries and wrote hymns for them to sing. He wrote little but he wrote well.

Sir Robert Grant died in 1839 but a year later his twelve hymn-poems were published through the good offices of his brother Charles. They were given the not too original title "Sacred Poems."

Set to various tunes they found their place in a number of hymnals but none of them ever took the world by storm. None, that is, except this one.

Based on the words of Psalm 104 the hymn exhorts us:

O worship the King all glorious above,
And gratefully sing his wonderful love;
Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendour, and girded with praise.

As you can see, Sir Robert had a way with words , and the rest of the hymn continues in the same vein.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light,
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.

This hymn always reminds me of the years I spent at grammar school in Belfast. It seems as though we sang it almost every week in that most wonderful of public school traditions, morning assembly.

I'm sure our rendering of it was by no means melodious but it certainly left a lasting impression upon me.

Some say that the majestic words written by the governor of Bombay would never have become popular but for the beautiful tune written by the son of an Austrian carriage wheel maker.

For my part, I agree that the words and music combine beautifully, but have no doubt that the words by themselves would stand up very well. They are, after all, a paraphrase of the Word of God.


BIBLE PASSAGE:

1 ¶ Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.





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