428. O Worship the King

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1 O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

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

3 Your 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.

4 Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

5 O measureless Might, unchangeable Love,
whom angels delight to worship above!
Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze,
in true adoration shall sing to your praise!

Text Information
First Line: O worship the King all glorious above
Title: O Worship the King
Author: Robert Grant (1833, alt.)
Meter: 10 10 11 11
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ;
Topic: King, God/Christ as; Praise & Adoration; Creation and Providence (5 more...)
Tune Information
Meter: 10 10 11 11
Key: G Major
Source: W. Gardner's Sacred Melodies 1815; attr. Haydn

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 18:2, Dan. 7:9, 13, 22
st. 2 = Ps. 18:9-12, Ps. 104:1-3
st. 3 = Ps. 104:7-10
st. 5 = Ps. 145:10

Robert Grant (b. Bengal, India, 1779; d. Dalpoorie, India, 1838) was influenced in writing this text by William Kethe’s (PHH 100) paraphrase of Psalm 104 in the Anglo-Genevan Psalter (1561). Grant’s text was first published in Edward Bickersteth’s Christian Psalmody (1833) with several unauthorized alterations. In 1835 his original six-stanza text was published in Henry Elliott’s Psalm and Hymns. Stanza 3 was omitted in the Psalter Hymnal.

Rather than being a paraphrase or versification, the text is a meditation on the creation theme of Psalm 104. Stanzas 1-3, which allude to Psalm 104:1-6, focus on God’s creation as a testimony to his “measureless Might.” More personal in tone, stanzas 4 and 5 confess the compassion of God toward his creatures and affirm with apocalyptic vision that the “ransomed creation, with glory ablaze” will join with angels to hymn its praise to God.

Of Scottish ancestry, Grant was born in India, where his father was a director of the East India Company. He attended Magdalen College, Cambridge, and was called to the bar in 1807. He had a distinguished public career a Governor of Bombay and as a member of the British Parliament, where he sponsored a bill to remove civil restrictions on Jews. Grant was knighted in 1834. His hymn texts were published in the Christian Observer (1806-1815), in Elliot’s Psalms and Hymns (1835), and posthumously by his brother as Sacred Poems (1839).

Liturgical Use:
An opening hymn of praise; because of the hymn’s relationship to Psalm 104, see suggestions for use at PHH 104.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

LYONS, named for the French city Lyons, appeared with a reference to “Haydn” in volume 2 of William Gardiner’s (PHH 111) Sacred Melodies. However, the tune was never found in the works of Franz Joseph Haydn or those of his younger brother Johann Michael Haydn. Recent research revealed that the tune was composed by Joseph Martin Kraus, a German composer who settled in Sweden and who traveled widely throughout Europe. Die Werke von Joseph Martin Kraus systematisch-thematisches Werkvereichnis, by Bertil H. Van Boer, Jr. (Stockholm, 1988), includes information on Kraus’ “Tema con variazioni (Scherzo),” a work composed around 1785 in London with an incipit that clearly matches the opening measure of LYONS. The work was published as a set of twelve variations for piano and violin in London in 1791. The violin part may have been an addition by another composer, perhaps “G. Haydn,” since a subsequent London edition (c. 1808) was entitled “Sonita with Twelve Variations for the Piano Forte with Violin Accompaniments, composed by G. Haydn.”

Joseph Martin Kraus (b. Miltenberg am Main, Germany, 1756; d. Stockholm, Sweden, 1792) spent his youth in Germany, but in 1778 moved to Stockholm. He was elected to the Swedish Academy of Music and became the conductor of the court orchestra and eventually the best-known composer associated with the court of Gustavus III. On his travels, Kraus did meet Franz Joseph Haydn, who considered Kraus “one of the greatest geniuses I have met.” Kraus wrote operas as well as many vocal and instrumental works.

A bright melody, LYONS is much loved by many congregations. Lines 1,2, and 4 are similar in shape; lines 2 and 4 are identical. The climbing melody and dominant pedal-point of line 3 provides contrast. Sing stanzas 1, 3, and 5 in solid unison and stanzas 2 and 4 in harmony. Use clear, bright accompaniment. Maintain one pulse per bar. LYONS’ opening figure is similar to that of HANOVER (149 and 477), a good alternate tune.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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