“Stand Up and Bless the Lord”

“STAND UP AND BLESS THE LORD”

“Stand up and bless the Lord” (Neh. 9:5)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which encourages us to arise and praise God as did the Levites to the people in Nehemiah’s time is “Stand Up and Bless the Lord.”  The text was written by James Montgomery (1771-1854).  It was produced in 1824 for the anniversary celebration of the Red Hill Wesleyan Sunday school in Sheffield, England.  The original second line was “Ye children of His choice.”   Other well known hymns by Montgomery include “According to Thy Gracious Word,” “Go to Dark Gethsemane,” “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,” and “In the Hour of Trial.”  The traditional tune (St. Michael) used with “Stand Up and Bless the Lord” is taken from a melody attributed to Louis Bourgeois in the French Genevan Psalter of 1551. It was adapted by William Crotch in his Psalm Tunes of 1836.  Alternate tunes include one (St. Thomas) by Aaron Williams in 1770 (also used with several other hymns, including “Our Day of Praise Is Done” by John Ellerton); another (Advent) by John Goss in 1872; and still another (Bucklands) by George H. Loud in 1908. 

     The majority of our books that have the hymn use a tune (Carlisle) composed by Charles Lockhart, who was born in 1745 at London, England.  The first organist of the Lock Hospital, he was for some years associated with Martin Madan in the musical arrangements there. Though blind from infancy, Lockhart had a distinct musical gift, and was especially known for training children’s choirs. His earliest tunes were printed on separate sheets.  This one dates from 1791 (some sources give the date as 1769).  Lockhart published a set of hymn tunes about 1810, and died Feb. 9, 1815, at London.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “Stand Up and Bless the Lord” appeared in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and I think the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise edited by Alton H. Howard. In the 2008 Sacred Songs of the Church, editor William D. Jeffcoat uses the same tune for his own “Help Us, O God, This Day.”

     The song suggests several reasons why we should bless the Lord.

I. Stanza 1 says that we are His people

“Stand up and bless the Lord

Ye people of His choice;

Stand up and bless the Lord your God

With heart and soul and voice.”

 A. Standing up is a symbol of respect: Neh. 8:5

 B. Just as were the Hebrews under the Old Covenant, so under the New Christians are the people of His choice: Ps. 100:3

 C. To bless the Lord with heart and soul and voice simply means to praise Him with our whole being: Ps. 16:7

II. Stanza 2 says that we should fear His holy name

“Though high above all praise,

Above all blessing high,

Who would not fear His holy Name,

And laud and magnify?”

 A. God is high above all praise and blessing: Ps. 71:19

 B. Therefore, we should fear His holy name: Isa. 59:19

 C. Those who fear His holy name will also laud and magnify Him: Rom. 15:11

III. Stanza 3 says that we desire to wing to heaven our thought

“O for the living flame

From His own altar brought,

To touch our lips, our minds inspire,

And wing to heaven our thought!”

 A. The living flame is a symbol of the purifying nature of God’s word: Isa. 10:17

 B. Like Isaiah, we should seek this flame to touch our lips: Isa. 6:6-7

 C. With our lips and minds purified, we wing to heaven our thought by setting our affections on things above: Col. 3:1-2

IV. Stanza 4 says that we feel Him near

“There, with benign regard,

Our hymns He deigns to hear;

Though unrevealed to mortal sense,

Our spirits feel Him near.”

 A. God hears the hymns that we sing to Him: Col. 3:16

 B. He is unrevealed to mortal sense in that no man can see Him: Jn. 1:18

 C. Yet, because of His love, our spirits can feel Him near: Acts 17:27-28

V. Stanza 5 says that we have salvation through Him

“God is our Strength and Song,

And His salvation ours;

Then be His love in Christ proclaimed

With all our ransomed powers.”

 A. God is our Strength: Ps. 18:1

 B. He is the source of our salvation: Ps. 25:5

 C. Therefore, we should proclaim or show forth His love in Christ with all our ransomed powers: 1 Pet. 2:9

VI. Stanza 6 says that we have a responsibility to adore Him

“Stand up and bless the Lord;

The Lord your God adore;

Stand up and bless His glorious Name;

Henceforth forevermore.”

 A. The reason we stand up and bless the Lord is because we adore or love Him: Ps. 116:1

 B. Not only do we bless the Lord Himself, but we also bless His glorious name since His name stands for who and what He is: Ps. 96:2

 C. And this we should do both now and forevermore: Ps. 44:8

     CONCL.:  I will express an opinion.  I certainly do not believe that all modern hymns are bad.  I do not even believe that all of the currently popular “praise and worship songs” are necessarily worthless.  But I do find it interesting that many of the older hymns like this one, short as it is, often say a lot more both in praise to God and in admonition to us, than a great number of even the longer selections from the “Contemporary Christian Music” movement (with their sometimes extreme amount of repetition).  It is good in our singing to encourage one another to “Stand Up and Bless the Lord.”

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One thought on ““Stand Up and Bless the Lord”

  1. I’m enjoying your hymn studies so much! Stumbled across you blog looking for a hymn based on anything from the book of Nehemiah. What a treasure you are providing. I’ll be back to see your latest.

    Reply

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