(picture of Samuel Sebastian Wesley)
“PRAISE JEHOVAH; PRAISE THE LORD” (Psalm 113)
“Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O ye servants of the Lord…” (Ps. 113:1)
INTRO.: A hymn which encourages us to praise the Lord as His servants is “Praise Jehovah; Praise the Lord” (#601 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text, based on Ps. 113:1-9, is taken from The Book of Psalms for Singing, 1973, originally published by The Board of Education and Publication, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. An updated version beginning “Praise the Lord’s name, praise the Lord!” appears in The Book of Psalms for Worship, 2010, from the same publisher. Unlike many other Psalm texts from this source found in Hymns for Worship, this one did not come to use in churches of Christ through Selected Psalms for Church Singing, edited by Edward Fudge and originally published by C. E. I. Publishing Co. in 1974.
The Book of Psalms for Singing, The Book of Psalms for Worship, and Hymns for Worship Revised all use a tune (Hendon) by Henri Abraham Cesar Malan which we usually associate with “Lord, We Come Before Thee Now.” The original edition of Hymns for Worship had words only with a note to use this same tune. It requires a repetition of the last line. The 1961 Trinity Hymnal has another arrangement of Ps. 113 by Josiah Condor following the same meter without the repeat which uses a tune (Alcester) harmonized by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1878). Hymns for Worship uses only the first three stanzas.
The song may well be used to express praise to the Lord by His servants.
- Stanza 1 praises Jehovah for His name
Praise Jehovah; praise the Lord;
Ye His servants, praise accord;
Blessed be Jehovah’s name;
Evermore His praise proclaim.
- Jehovah is the name by which God calls Himself: Exo. 6:2-3 (note ASV)
- Therefore, His name is to be blessed: Job 1:21
- And we are to proclaim the praise of the Lord Himself: Ps. 107:8
II. Stanza 2 praises Jehovah for His glory
From the dawn to setting sun,
Praise the Lord, the Mighty One.
O’er all nations He is high;
Yea, His glory crowns the sky.
- God’s name is to be great from the rising of the sun to its going down: Mal. 1:11
- He is the Mighty One: Isa. 1:24
- And His glory is above all the earth: Ps. 57:5
III. Stanza 3 praises Jehovah for His condescension to man
Who is like the Lord our God?
High in heaven is His abode,
Who Himself doth humble low
Things in heaven and earth to know.
- Jehovah our God dwells high in the heavens: Matt. 6:9
- Yet, He has humbled Himself low, especially in the person of Jesus Christ: Phil. 2:5-8
- Thus, He has perfect knowledge of all things in heaven and earth: Ps. 139:1-6
IV. Stanza 4 praises Jehovah for His exaltation of the lowly
He the lowly makes to rise
From the dust in which he lies,
That exalted he may stand
With the princes of the land.
- God exalts the humble: 1 Pet. 5:5-6
- They are raised up to be seated in heavenly places: Eph. 2:4-6
- This place is above even the princes of the land: Ps. 119:99-100
V. Stanza 5 praises Jehovah for His giving joy to the sorrowing
He the barren woman takes
And a joyful mother makes;
Keeping house she finds reward.
Praise Jehovah, praise the Lord.
- The barren woman is a symbol of great sadness and sorrow: Prov. 30:15-16
- However, God is able to make the barren woman to be a joyful mother: 1 Sam. 1:1-20
- Thus, all who have mourned can praise Jehovah for His comfort: Matt. 5:4
CONCL.: There have been those who teach, or at least seem to believe, that the only scriptural songs for the church are the Psalms of the Old Testament. However, since the New Testament specifically mentions psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians do not so limit their musical expressions of praise and admonition. At the same time, there is much that we can learn from the Psalms to help us “Praise Jehovah; Praise the Lord.”