“Almighty God, Thy Lofty Throne”

“ALMIGHTY GOD, THY LOFTY THRONE”

“Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before Thy face” (Psalm 89:14)

INTRO.: A hymn which emphasizes that justice and judgment are the habitation of God’s throne and that mercy and truth go before His face is “Almighty God, Thy Lofty Throne.” The text, based upon Psalm 89:14-18 and 28-29, is taken from a complete metrical version of the Psalm found in The Psalter of 1912. The first four stanzas of the song, sometimes used as a separate hymn, are as follows:

1. “My song forever shall record

The tender mercies of the Lord;

Thy faithfulness will I proclaim,

And every age shall know Thy Name.”

2. “I sing of mercies that endure,

Forever builded firm and sure,

Of faithfulness that never dies,

Established changeless in the skies.”

3. “Behold God’s truth and grace displayed,

For He has faithful covenant made,

And He has sworn that David’s Son

Shall ever sit upon his throne.”

4. “For him My mercy shall endure,

My covenant made with him is sure;

His throne and race I will maintain

Forever, while the heavens remain.”

The tune (Winchester New or Crasselius) is an anonymous melody that first appeared in the Musikalisches Handbuch der geistlichen Melodien published by Georg Rebenlein and Georg Wittwe at Hamburg, Germany, in 1690, where it was set to the text “Wer nur den lieben Gott.” Because it was used as a setting for his hymn “Dir, dir Jehova, will ich singen” (“Jehovah, Let Me Now Adore Thee”) in Johann Freylinghausen’s Geistreiches Gesangbuch of 1704, it is sometimes attributed to Bartholomäus Crasselius, who was born on Feb. 21, 1667, at Wernsdorf, near Glauchau in Saxony, Germany. Son of Johannes Crasselt, a sheep master and barrel maker at Wernsdorf, Bartholomaus studied at Halle under August Hermann Francke. In 1701 he became a Lutheran minister at Nidda in Wetteravia (Wetterau), Hesse, and after 1708 worked in Düesseldorf. Known primarily as an author of church hymns, Crasselius was an undaunted preacher of repentance who aroused new life to the municipality but also became involved much controversy and reprimand as he engaged for many years in heavy fights with his authorities. He died on Nov. 10, 1734, at Düsseldorf, Germany.

It is doubtful if Crasselius actually composed the tune, since he was primarily a poet, but there are some vague references to “the music of Crasselius.” In any event, the tune was harmonized in 1847 by William Henry Monk (1823-1889). It then was reworked as a long-meter tune by William Henry Havergal (1793-1870). This arrangement first appeared in his Old Church Psalmody of 1864. The same melody has been used with several other hymns, including “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” attributed to Ambrose of Milan and translated by Louis F. Benson, “This Day at Thy Creating Word” by William Walsham How, “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty” by Henry Hart Millman, and “The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord” by Isaac Watts. With regard to the metrical version Psalm 89, some modern hymnbook editors have an almost neurotic compulsion not to let a single “Thee” or “Thy” slip by, so they change it to “Almighty God, YOUR Lofty Throne.”

The song expresses praise to God as the one who sits upon the throne of the universe.

I. Stanza 1 identifies God as almighty

“Almighty God, Thy lofty throne

Has justice for its cornerstone,

And shining bright before Thy face

Are truth and love and boundless grace.”

A. God identified Himself as almighty to Abraham: Gen. 17:1

B. This almighty God sits upon the throne of the universe: Ps. 47:8

C. As the almighty God, He dispenses justice: Ps. 82:1-3

II. Stanza 2 identifies God as the Lord who blesses His people

“With blessing is the nation crowned

Whose people know the joyful sound;

They in the light, O Lord, shall live,

The light Thy face and favor give.”

A. God extends a special blessing upon His people: Ps. 3:8

B. These are the people who know the joyful sound: Ps. 100:1

C. It is to them that the Lord will make the light of His face shine: Num. 6:25

III. Stanza 3 identifies God as having a name worthy to be confesses

“Thy Name with gladness they confess,

Exalted in Thy righteousness;

Their fame and might to Thee belong,

For in Thy favor they are strong.”

A. God’s people should always seek to bless His name: Ps. 145:1

B. In so doing, they exalt and declare His righteousness: Ps. 22:31

C. In return God makes them strong in the Lord: Eph. 6:10

IV. Stanza 4 identifies God as our Help and Shield

“All glory unto God we yield,

Jehovah is our Help and Shield;

All praise and honor will we bring

To Israel’s Holy One, our King.”

A. God’s name is due glory: Ps. 29:2

B. One reason is that He is our Help and Shield: Ps. 33:20

C. Therefore, we should offer to Him the sacrifice of praise continually: Heb. 13:15

V. Stanza 5 identifies God as displaying His truth and grace

“Behold God’s truth and grace displayed,

For He has faithful covenant made,

And He has sworn that David’s Son

Shall ever sit upon His throne.”

A. God displayed His grace and truth through His Son Jesus Christ: Jn. 1:17

B. This is the result of the covenant that God had made: Ps. 111:9

C. The covenant is based upon the oath which God swore that David’s Son would sit upon His throne: Ps. 132:11

VI. Stanza 6 identifies God as extending His mercy forever

“For Him My mercy shall endure,

My covenant made with Him is sure;

His throne and race I will maintain

Forever, while the heavens remain.”

A. Over and over the Bible says that God’s mercy or lovingkindness endures forever: Ps. 136:1

B. Again, reference is made to the covenant that God made with David: 2 Sam. 7:12-13

C. Thus, Jehovah told the Lord, the most illustrious descendent of David, to sit on the throne at His right hand until His enemies are made His footstool: Ps. 110:1

CONCL.: Other stanzas from the complete metrical version of the Psalm are as follows:

“The heavens shall join in glad accord

To praise Thy wondrous works, O Lord;

Thy faithfulness shall praise command

Where holy ones assembled stand.”

“Who in the heavenly dwellings fair

Can with the Lord Himself compare?

Or who among the mighty shares

The likeness that Jehovah bears?”

“With fear and reverence at His feet

God’s holy ones in council meet;

Yea, more than all about His throne

Must He be feared, and He alone.”

“O Thou Jehovah, God of hosts,

What mighty one Thy likeness boasts?

In all Thy works and vast designs

Thy faithfulness forever shines.”

“The swelling sea obeys Thy will,

Its angry waves Thy voice can still;

Thy mighty enemies are slain,

Thy foes resist Thy power in vain.”

“The heavens and earth, by right divine,

The world and all therein, are Thine;

The whole creation’s wondrous frame

Proclaims its Maker’s glorious Name.”

“Blest be the Lord forevermore,

Whose promise stands from days of yore,

His Word is faithful now as then;

Blest be His Name. Amen, Amen.”

It is good to be reminded that in whatever nation we might live, Jehovah, whom Christians worship and serve, is the true ruler of the universe, as we bow before Him and say, “Almighty God, Thy Lofty Throne.”

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