What Shall I Render to the LORD

Full Text

1 What shall I render to the LORD
for all his benefits to me?
How shall my life, by grace restored,
give worthy thanks, O LORD, to thee?

2 Salvation's cup of blessing now
I take and call upon God's name.
Before his saints I pay my vow
and here my gratitude proclaim.

3 His saints the LORD delights to save;
their death is precious in his sight.
He has redeemed me from the grave,
and in his service I delight.

4 With thankful heart I offer now
my gift and call upon God's name.
Before his saints I pay my vow
and here my gratitude proclaim.

5 Within his house, the house of prayer,
I dedicate myself to God.
Let all his saints his grace declare
and join to sound his praise abroad.

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Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

This setting of the second half of Psalm 116 is one of the most loved from the 1912 Psalter. The text focuses on the "vow of praise" section of this festive psalm of thanksgiving.


Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

When we sing about the offering of our gifts, we quickly find several thoughts interwoven with each other. The first is the foundational thought that God’s generosity in Christ has brought us salvation and all good things in life. God has “created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing” (Belgic Confession, Article 12) and he continues to “provide whatever I need in body and soul” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26). But God’s greatest act of generosity is shown in the gift of his Son “by a most perfect love” (Belgic Confession, Article 20) through whom we find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. This generosity of God is always in the background of each song in this section.


God’s children are called to respond thankfully to God’s generosity. Our gifts, therefore, take on the nature of a testimony of thankfulness to our generous God. We aim that “with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 32, Question and Answer 86). Indeed, all our living, including our gifts, are intended to show “how I am to thank God for such deliverance” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 2). It is natural, therefore, that our giving of offerings is accompanied with songs that express this gratitude.


What Shall I Render to the LORD

Call to Worship

What shall we return to the Lord
for all his bounty to us?
We will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord;
we will pay our vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
—from Psalm 116:12-14, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

Compassionate God,
you protect us from unseen danger
and catch us when we stumble and fall.
You answer when we call to you in prayer.
Help our worship of you to be sacrificial and our vows to you to be sincere,
serving and rejoicing because of you as long as we live. Amen.
— Psalms for All Seasons (http://www.psalmsforallseasons.org)

A Prayer of Thanksgiving
With full hearts we give you thanks, O Lord. You have redeemed our wayward lives. You have offered us your cup of salvation. So we dedicate ourselves to you and join to sound your praise abroad in Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

What Shall I Render to the LORD

Tune Information

E♭ Major


Musical Suggestion

You may want to introduce this lovely tune and harmonization to the congregation by having the choir sing it. I advise creating your own concertato by employing a flute to introduce the melody, then having the choir quietly sing the first stanza in unison accompanied by the organ. Involve the congregation on stanzas 4 and 5 with a flute descant, created by playing the tenor part two octaves above the tenor range. This hymn would serve a church well as a response to the offering.
If you'd rather use a published arrangement for this rune, some effective concertatos (using, however, the text for "When I Survey") have been produced by Morning Star and by Concordia. The former is a setting by B. Wayne Bisbee that employs a C instrument in triple time against the tune, harmonized for a mixed choir. The latter is arranged by Bruce Saylor, accompanied only by organ but including a descant in eighth-note movement against the tune. However, I believe the finest is Sir David Willcock's four-part descant in Hymns for Choir, included here.
The alternative harmonization for organ could be played by itself for a stirring conclusion. But praise would be heightened by the addition of the four-part choral descant that overlays both the congregational singing in unison and the organ part. It would take a large choir to be heard above the congregation; a brass quartet could add support and brilliance in place of or in addition to a choir. If your congregation has neither choir nor brass, even adding piano on the descant might add a measure of brightness to conclude this psalm of dedication.
For the organist, Raymond Haan has a beautiful setting of ROCKINGHAM in Contemplative Hymn Tune Preludes (Shawnee Press HF5103). I would also advise looking at Free Organ Accompaniments to One Hundred Well-Known Hymn Tunes (J. Fischer 8175) by T. Tertius Noble, and Henry Coleman's Varied Hymn Accompaniments (Oxford Press).
Because of its lyrical nature, this is an excellent hymn to use with children. Consider involving the junior choir on one of the stanzas or using it as a song for children's worship throughout the month. Certainly the phrases are of comfortable length, and the range is excellent for youth.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 32)
— Merle R. Mustert

What Shall I Render to the LORD

Hymn Story/Background

This setting of the second half of Psalm 116 is one of the most loved from the 1912 Psalter. The text focuses on the "vow of praise" section of this festive psalm of thanksgiving. Singing communally, we answer the questions in st. 1 with responses applicable to the Lord’s Supper (st. 2)—eucharista means “thanksgiving, which is the theme of this psalm), funerals (st. 3), offerings (st. 4), and dedication (st. 5).
Edward Miller adapted ROCKINGHAM from an earlier tune, TUNEBRIDGE, which had been published in Aaron Williams's A Second Supplement to Psalmody in Miniature (c. 1780). ROCKINGHAM has long associations in Great Britain and North America with Isaac Watts' "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." The tune title refers to a friend and patron of Edward Miller, the Marquis of Rockingham, who served twice as Great Britain's prime minister.
ROCKINGHAM (or ROCKINGHAM OLD) is one of the finest long-meter tunes in the history of church music and is much loved by those who sing in harmony. A slight hold (stretching rather than adding a beat) is appropriate at the end of the second phrase and helps to provide a sense of two long musical lines. Stanzas 4 and 5 need the full resources of organ and other instruments. Keep the music stately and awe-inspiring with respect to the marvelous salvation of which the text sings.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

The 1912 Psalter was the first ecumenical psalter published in the United States and the most widely used metrical psalter of the twentieth century in North America.  The United Presbyterian Church invited all other Reformed and Presbyterian denominations to join them in the effort to provide a new versifications of the psalms; six Presbyterian denominations, as well as the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America joined in the effort in revising the 1887 Psalter (whose texts actually dated back to the 1871 Book of Psalms; the 1887 edition had added music to the texts.).  The 1912 Psalter included all the psalms in 413 settings, eight doxologies, and the three Lukan canticles (Song of Mary, Song of Zechariah, and Song of Simeon).
— Bert Polman and Jack Reiffer

Composer Information

Edward Miller’s (b. Norwich, England, 1735; d. Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, 1807) father had made his living laying brick roads, and the young Edward became an apprentice in the same trade. Unhappy with that profession, however, he ran away to the town of Lynn and studied music with Charles Burney, the most prominent music historian of his day. A competent flute and organ player, he was organist at the parish church in Doncaster from 1756 to 1807. Miller was active in the musical life of the Doncaster region and composed keyboard sonatas and church music. His most influential publications were The Psalms of David for the Use of Parish Churches (1790), in which he sought to reform metrical psalmody (and which included ROCKINGHAM), and David's Harp (1805), an important Methodist tunebook issued by Miller with his son.
— Bert Polman
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