Thursday, October 7, 2010

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

We're singing another of my all-time favorite hymns this Sunday.  The tune "Lobe Den Herren" is among the most familiar and singable hymn tunes ever composed.  It rolls along like a pleasant folk song, meandering up and down the scale in a lilting triplet rhythm and ending each phrase with a lengthened cadence that gives it a sense of finality and arrival.  It's an absolute pleasure just to hum the tune, and I defy you not to smile when you do.

The text mirrors that joyful praise.  Many people can sing the first verse easily from memory:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
Let all who hear now to his temple draw near,
Joining in glad adoration!

Maybe you learned it with a different word or two along the way.  To me, the only proper text is the one sung by the St. Olaf choir in their rousing rendition.  I prefer the last line of the hymn to be "Join me in glad adoration."  The tune is so simple and pure that to me it makes sense for it to be in the first person, a call to join and share in celebration.  The final verse switches to the plural pronoun "we," which reinforces the sense of welcome to a community of believers.

The prelude this week will be an arrangement of the tune by Paul Manz, with the melody in a strong bass line, beneath a faster ritornello in the upper voices.  As with the text and the hymn itself, the entire piece builds to the joyful close:

Let the amen sound from his people again.
Gladly forever adore him!

1 comment:

  1. I relate well to the hymns that talk about happiness, and how worship is one thing that should make us happy. On Belief (new version SoF) talked about that this week, saying at one point the only reason we were put here is to be happy. I know, the hymn refers to gladness, but I think the same concept.