“Ye Servants of God”


“Bless ye the Lord, all ye His hosts, ye ministers of His that do His pleasure” (Psalm 103:21)

     INTRO.: A hymn which encourages us to praise God as those who are numbered among the Lord’s hosts of ministers and serve at His pleasure is, “Ye Servants of God.” The text was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). It was first published in his 1744 Hymns in Times of Trouble and Persecution. The persecution of Wesleys and their followers is reflected in stanzas two and three, which are commonly omitted. Some books set this text to a tune (Lyons) attributed to Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806). It was arranged as a hymn tune by William Gardiner (1769-1853). The first publication was in Gardner’s 1815 Sacred Melodies, printed in London, England. The Haydn tune is more commonly associated with Robert Grant’s hymn “O Worship the King.” 

     However, most books use another tune (Hanover) attributed to William Croft (1678-1727). It is dated 1708. Croft is perhaps best known as the composer of the tune (St. Ann) most often used with Isaac Watts’s hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it has not appeared or been found in any to my knowledge (unless it is 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann, but my copy is packed in a tub and stored in my garage awaiting an upcoming move as I write this, so it is not available to check at the present time).

     The song exhorts the those who are servants of God to express their praise to Him and His Son.

I. Stanza 1 tells God’s servants to proclaim their Master

“Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim,

And publish abroad His wonderful Name;

The Name all victorious of Jesus extol,

His kingdom is glorious and rules over all.”

 A. The word “proclaim” (the passages in the King James Version that use the word “publish” are rendered “proclaim” in most of the newer versions) means to announce or make known publicly: Ps. 26.7

  B. The word “extol” means to praise in the highest terms: Ps. 30.1

  C. The reason is that the Lord is the Master and His glorious kingdom rules over all: Ps. 103.19

II. Stanza 2 tells God’s servants to trust Him in trouble

“The waves of the sea have lift up their voice,

Sore troubled that we in Jesus rejoice;

The floods they are roaring, but Jesus is here;

While we are adoring, He always is near.”

 A. The lifting up of the waves of the sea represents often represents trials and tribulations in life: Ps. 107.23-29

 B. One reason for such trials and tribulations for God’s people is the sore trouble of persecution: Jn. 15.18-21

 C. However, as we go about doing His will, Jesus has promised to be with us: Matt. 28.18-20

III. Stanza 3 tells God’s servants to be built on the rock

“When devils engage, the billows arise,

And horribly rage, and threaten the skies:

Their fury shall never our steadfastness shock,

The weakest believer is built on a rock.”

 A. Persecution is one of the wiles of the devil in his attempt to destroy our faith: Eph. 6.11-12

 B. However, even his fury can never shock our steadfastness and separate us from the love of God: Rom. 8.35-39

 C. Yet, this is true only for those who build their lives upon the rock by doing the will of Christ: Matt. 7.24-25

IV. Stanza 4 tells God’s srvants to ascribe salvation to Jesus

“God ruleth on high, almighty to save,

And still He is nigh, His presence we have;

The great congregation His triumph shall sing,

Ascribing salvation to Jesus, our King.”

 A. Even though it may not always look like it, the message of the book of Revelation is that God still rules on high and sits on His throne: Rev. 4.2-3

 B. At the same time, He is nigh each one of us: Acts 17.24-28

 C. Therefore, His congregation can sing in triumph and ascribe salvation to Jesus the King: Rev. 7.9-10

V. Stanza 5 tells God’s servants to honor the Son

“’Salvation to God, who sits on the throne!’

Let all cry aloud and honor the Son;

The praises of Jesus the angels proclaim,

Fall down on their faces, and worship the Lamb.”

 A. Just as we are to honor God who sits on the throne, we are to honor His Son: Jn. 5.23

 B. Even the angels sing the praises of Jesus: Rev. 5.11-12

 C. This is part of their worship of the Son: Heb. 1.6

VI. Stanza 6 tells God’s servants to adore our Lord

“Then let us adore and give Him His right,

All glory and power, all wisdom and might;

All honor and blessing with angels above,

And thanks never ceasing and infinite love.”

 A. To “adore” means to render divine honors to someone with intense devotion; we do this to Jesus because it is His right as God: Jn. 1.1

 B. Thus, we are to join with the hosts above to give Him blessing and honor and glory and power: Rev. 5.13-14

 C. In so doing, we express our never ceasing thanks for what He has done for us: Rev. 4.9-11

     CONCL.: Someone once warned me to be careful about Charles Wesley’s hymns because many of them promote the Wesleyan concept of a “second working of grace.” However, most of the ones which are universally used are free from such theological argumentation, and this one, though not well known among us, is pure praise and adoration. Wesley’s triumphant words together with Croft’s stirring music make for a joyful and exuberant acclamation of glory and honor to our Father and to our Savior.  Though not commonly found in our books, it is one of those “undiscovered gems” that merits a look as we urge each other to praise God in song, in addressing each other as, “Ye Servants of God.”


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