"PRAISE, MY SOUL, THE KING OF HEAVEN"
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Ps. 103.2)
INTRO.: A hymn which praises the Lord for His eternal reign is "Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven." The text was written by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847). Based on Psalm 103, it was first published in his 1834 Spirit of the Psalms, a new collection of over 280 free Psalm paraphrases produced for his congregation at the small fishing village of Lower Brixham in Devonshire, England, where he worked from 1823 till his death. The usual tune (Lauda Anima–Goss, Praise My Soul, or Benedic Anima) to which it is set was composed for this text by John Goss, who was born on Dec. 27, 1880, at Fareham in Hampshire, England, the son of an organist also named John Goss. At the age of eleven, young Goss went to live with his uncle, a singer of considerable reputation, in London.
After being a chorister in the Chapel Royal and a pupil of Thomas Attwood, he became professor of harmony at the Royal Academy for 47 years beginning in 1827, having edited Parochial Psalmody the year before for a congregation at Chelsea. Having served as an organist at Stockwell and St. Luke’s in Chelsea, he published An Introduction to Harmony and Through Bass in 1831. In 1838 he succeeded Attwood as organist at St. Paul’s, and in 1841 he edited Chants, Ancient and Modern.
Because of his compositional skill, in 1856, Goss was appointed composer to the Royal Chapel, and that same year he served as music editor for Mercer’s Church Psalter. This tune first appeared in the Supplemental Hymn and Tune Book, third edition with new Appendix, edited by Robert Brown-Borthwick in 1869. A composer of mostly church music such as anthems, service music, and hymn tunes, Goss was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1872 and given an honorary Mus. D. degree by Cambridge in 1876. He died on May 18, 1880, at London, England.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the text only appeared in the 1922 edition of the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and with a tune (Regent Square) by Henry Smart which is usually associated in our books with the hymn "Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending" in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. The text is found with a newer tune (Lauda Anima–Andrews) by Mark Andrews in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the song with Goss’s tune is found in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand.
The song offers praise to the King of heaven for all His blessings.
I. Stanza 1 praises God for His Kingship
"Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who, like me, His praise should sing?
Praise Him, praise Him, Praise Him, praise Him, Praise the everlasting King."
A. Jehovah is the King of heaven: Ps. 10.16
B. As our King, He has ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven us: Ps. 51.12
C. Therefore, we should praise Him as our everlasting King: Ps. 22.25-26
II. Stanza 2 praises God for His grace
"Praise Him for His grace and favor To our fathers in distress;
Praise Him, still the same forever, Slow to chide, and swift to bless;
Praise Him, praise Him, Praise Him, praise Him, Glorious in His faithfulness."
A. Sometimes it is claimed that the "God of the Old Testament" was one of severity while the "God of the New Testament" is one of grace, but they are the same God and the Old Testament also reveals God’s grace and favor: Ps. 84.11
B. Because of His grace and favor, His is swift to bless those who obey Him: Ps. 5.12
C. The result of His grace and favor is that He is glorious in His faithfulness: Ps. 40.10
III. Stanza 3 praises God for His mercy
"Father-like, He tends and spares us; Well our feeble frame He knows.
InHis hands He gently bears us, Rescues us from all our foes;
Praise Him, praise Him, Praise Him, praise Him, Widely as His mercy goes."
A. God’s mercy is like that of a Father who tends and spares His children because He knows their frame: Ps. 68.5
B. As a result of His mercy, He gently bears His children and protects them by His hand: Ps. 10.12
C. Therefore, we should praise Him because His mercy endures forever: Ps. 106.1
IV. Stanza 4 praises God for His unchangeableness
"Frail as summer’s flower we flourish; Blows the wind and it is gone.
But, while mortals rise and perish, God endures unchanging on;
Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, Praise the high eternal one."
A. Mankind is frail as summer’s flower and grass that lasts only for a little while: Ps. 90.3-6
B. In contrast, God is unchangeable: Ps. 102.25-27
C. Therefore, we should praise Him as the one who is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting: Ps. 90.1-2
V. Stanza 5 praises God for His creation
"Angels, in the height, adore Him; Ye behold Him face to face.
Sun and moon, bow down before Him; Dwellers all in time and space,
Praise Him, praise Him, Praise Him, praise Him, Praise with us the God of grace."
A. All the angels of God worship Him: Ps. 148.1-2
B. Even the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens declare the glory of God: Ps. 19.1-6
C. Therefore, all creation and those who dwell in time and space should praise Him: Ps. 78.2-4
CONCL.: Many books replace the "Praise Him, praise Him, Praise Him, praise Him" of each stanza with "Alleluia, Alleluia," probably because it is somewhat less repetitive and does seem to fit the music a little better. It is interesting to read through Psalm 103 and compare the original wording with the thoughts expressed by Lyte. Whether I sing the words "Praise Him" or "Alleluia," I can use such a glorious hymn as this to say, "Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven."