This is part of an intermittent series I’ve called “Hymns We Should Sing More Often.” The aim is to remind us (or introduce for the first time) excellent hymns that are probably not included in most church’s musical canon. A few hymns–like Holy, Holy, Holy or Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing—are familiar to many congregations and get sung in conferences and other large gatherings. Unfortunately, for a growing number of churches, there are no hymnals in the pews (or on the chairs), and consequently there is little opportunity to draw from the deep well of Christian hymnody. Most of the hymns in this series are not unfamiliar, just underutilized. I hope you will enjoy learning about these hymns as much as I have and enjoy singing them even more.
The book of Psalms has always been at the heart of Christian worship. From temple worship in the Old Testament and the over 200 psalm citations or allusions in the New Testament, through the early church, monastic orders, and Reformation psalters, all the way to contemporary psalm settings, Christians have always sung the psalms. Terry L. Johnson says, “There is a wholeness to the psalms as designed by their divine author that addresses the whole of human life. There is a realism as well, teaching the positive and negative sides of spiritual experience: the light and the dark, the delightful and the degrading, the victorious and the defeating, the hopeful and the discouraging.”
Psalm 146, from which this hymn, Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul, is taken, highlights the delightful and hopeful side of spiritual experience: God is to be praised because he is utterly trustworthy, faithful, powerful, compassionate, and just. The psalm begins and ends with “Hallelu Yah!” “Praise Jehovah!” The main body of the psalm encourages us to fully trust the Lord as almighty Creator, deliverer of the oppressed, provider for the needy, and protector of the weak. We have been teaching our kids this Psalm in family worship over the course of the last couple months.
The versification of this psalm is slightly modified from the 1912 Psalter. The tune–a strong, stirring, singable melody– is the majestic RIPLEY, composed by Lowell Mason in 1839.
Hallelujah, praise Jehovah, O my soul, Jehovah praise; I will sing the glorious praises of my God through all my days. Put no confidence in princes, nor for help on man depend; he shall die, to dust returning, and his purposes shall end.
Happy is the man that chooses Israel’s God to be his aid; he is blesses whose hope of blessing on the Lord his God is stayed. Heav’n and earth the Lord created, seas and all that they contain; he delivers from oppression, righteousness he will maintain.
Food he daily gives the hungry, sets the mourning pris’ner free, raises those bowed down with anguish, makes the sightless eye to see. Well Jehovah loves the righteous, and the stranger he befriends, helps the fatherless and widow, judgment on the wicked sends.
Hallelujah, praise Jehovah, O set my soul, Jehovah praise; I will sing the glorious praises of my God through all my days. Over all God reigns forever, through all ages he is King; unto him, your God, O Zion, joyful hallelujahs sing.