“Give to Our God Immortal Praise”

"…For His mercy endureth forever" (Ps. 136:1)

     INTRO.: A hymn which encourages us to praise God because of His mercy which endures forever is "Give to Our God Immortal Praise" (#547 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text, based on Psalm 136, was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). It is thought to be the best of his three paraphrases of the Psalm published in his 1719 work The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament. Many tunes have been used with it, notably one (Warrington) by Ralph Harrison that in our books is most commonly associated with Henry F. Lyte’s "Sweet Is the Solemn Voice That Calls." Another one (Abends) that fits well with it was composed by Herbert Sidney Oakeley, who was born on July 22, 1830, at Ealing in Middlesex, near London, England, the son of a Anglican minister named Herbert Oakeley.

     After being educated at Rugby and at Christ Church, Oxford University, Oakeley studied music in Lepizig, Dresden, and Bonn, Germany.  From 1865 to 1891 he taught at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, occupying the Reid Chair of Music, receiving a doctorate of music in 1871 at Canterbury and being knighted in 1876 for having composed the music used at the inauguration of the Scottish monument to the Prince Consort Albert. Also, he became Composer of Music to Queen Victoria in Scotland in 1881. This tune was produced because Oakeley did not like the music commonly used with John Keble’s "Sun of My Soul." It was published with Keble’s poem in the Irish Church Hymnal in 1874, but was later altered by Oakeley and republished, again with Keble’s text, in The Church Hymnary of 1898,

     An organist as well as a teacher, Oakeley was also a composer, one of whose better known works is the Suite in the Olden Style, op. 27, of 1893. He died on Oct. 26, 1903, at Eastbourne, England. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, Oakeley’s tune appears with Henry Twells’s "At Even, When the Sun Was Set," which most of our other books set to another tune (Eden) composed by Timothy B. Mason, in the 1986 Great Songs
edited by Forrest M. McCann. Watts’s text appears with a tune (Duke Street) by John Hatton, which most of our other books use with the John Needham’s "Awake, My Tongue, Thy Tribute Bring," in the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise edited by Alton H. Howard. For Watt’s hymn, Hymns for Worship Revised uses the tune (Hursley), attributed to Peter Ritter, which is most commonly found with "Sun of My Soul." The original edition of Hymns for Worship had the words only with the suggestion to use the Ritter tune.

      The song expresses praise to God because of His greatness and what He has done.

I. Stanza 1 praises God because of His mercy and truth
"Give to our God immortal praise; Mercy and truth are all His ways.
Wonders of grace to God belong; Repeat His mercies in your song."
 A. The word "immortal" means deathless, and while each of us must die, if we serve Him our praise to God can continue even after death: 1 Cor. 15:53
 B. One reason that we praise Him is because of His mercy and truth: Ps. 89:14
 C. We also praise Him because of His wonders: Ps. 77:14

II. Stanza 2 praises God because He is greater than all lords and kings
"Give to the Lord of lords renown; The King of kings with glory crown.
His mercies ever shall endure, When lords and kings are known no more."
 A. Our God is the Lord of lords the most high above all the earth: Ps. 97:9
 B. He is also the King of kings over all the nations: Ps. 47:7-8
 C. His mercies shall endure even when the lords and kings of this earth are no more: 2 Pet. 3:10

III. Stanza 3 praises God because He built the earth and sky
"He built the earth, He spread the sky, And fixed the starry lights on high.
Wonders of grace to God belong; Repeat His mercies in your song."
 A. God is worthy to be praised because He created the heavens and earth: Gen. 1:1
 B. In His creation, He fixed the starry lights on high: Gen. 1:16
 C. This same God has shown His grace to mankind: Ps. 84:11

IV. Stanza 4 praises God because He created the sun and moon
"He fills the sun with morning light; He bids the moon direct the night.
His mercies ever shall endure, When suns and moons shall shine no more."
 A. Also in creation, He made the sun to give light to the day: Ps. 19:1-6
 B. In addition, He made the moon to direct the night: Ps. 8:3-4
 C. Yet His mercies shall endure even when suns and moons are gone: Heb. 1:10-12

V. Stanza 5 praises God because He sent His Son to save us
"He sent His Son with power to save From guilt, and darkness, and the grave.
Wonders of grace to God belong; Repent His mercies in your song."
 A. This mighty God loved us so much that He sent His Son: Jn. 3:16
 B. His purpose in sending His Son is to save us from guilt, darkness, and the grave: Matt. 1:21
 C. Therefore, we should repeat His mercies in song continually: Ps. 69:30

VI. Stanza 6 praises God because He guides us to heaven
"Through this vain world He guides our feet, And leads us to His heavenly seat;
His mercies ever shall endure, When this vain world shall be no more."
 A. Because of His love, He also seeks to guide our feet through this vain world: Ps. 73:24
 B. His goal in this is to lead us to His heavenly seat where we shall obtain eternal life: Matt. 7:13-14
 C. Even then His mercies ever shall endure when this vain world is no more: Matt. 24:35

     CONCL.: The poem was originally in eight stanzas. The two omitted stanzas are as follows:
5. "The Jews He freed from Pharaoh’s hand, And brought them to the promised land.
Wonders of grace to God belong; Repeat His mercies in your song."
6. "He saw the Gentiles dead in sin, And felt His pity work within.
His mercies ever shall endure, When death and sin shall reign no more."
As we consider all that God has done for mankind physically and spiritually and what He will do for His people eternally, there is every reason in the world for us to "Give to Our God Immortal Praise."


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