Thursday, July 16, 2009

Notes from the Choir, Vol. 2

Hello, all! I've got about five minutes to post something before we leave for choir; been behind schedule all day, sadly.

I wanted to share this song, which we are doing for our Recessional Hymn this Sunday:

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet thy tribute bring;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
evermore his praises sing:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise him for his grace and favor
to our fathers in distress;
praise him still the same for ever,
slow to chide and swift to bless:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Glorious in his faithfulness.

Father-like, he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows;
in his hand he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Widely yet his mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore him;
ye behold him face to face;
sun and moon, bow down before him,
dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.


Written by Henry Francis Lyte, this hymn focuses on several aspects of God: His kingship, His mercy, His succor of those in need, and His creation which joins the worshiper in adoring Him.

Many songs of the "Praise and Worship" variety try to praise God like these older hymns do, but few of them succeed. Focusing a little too much on the worshiper and not enough on God, these hymns manage to cloud the praise of God in a self-congratulatory tone. Consider some lyrics from this song by Petra:

Lord, I lift Your name on high
Lord, I love to sing Your praises
I'm so glad You're in my life
I'm so glad You came to save us

Though meant to be a song of praise, this song, like others in the genre (some of which are unfortunately in Catholic hymn books) has a little "I" trouble. The other song commands "my soul" to praise God, but then reiterates the command without focusing on the person singing--as it should be.

Got to run, or I'll be late for practice! :)

4 comments:

Andrea said...

I had to chuckle when I read this post. It reminded me of my husband's youth ministry days and how he used to just despise all the "I" praise and worship songs! He avoided them at all costs. I've never seen anyone else point out this aspect of most of that genre until you posted!
:-)

John Thayer Jensen said...

I can't describe the feelings I have from "Immortal, Invisible" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immortal,_Invisible,_God_Only_Wise). Scotch Presbyterian (presumably Calvinist) - what a marvellous Catholic hymn!

Rebecca said...

Speaking of "my soul" hymns...I really love "What Wondrous Love"...when it is done well it is so haunting.

robert said...

Well, if you only had a few minutes to post a comment before heading to choir practice, you could hardly have chosen a better one. And I completely agree about the "I...me" praise songs. We need to get back to the words of John the Baptist, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn. 3:30).

"Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" works well as a processional hymn (with the tune Lauda Anima). My wife and I used it that way in our wedding, many years ago. (I believe Queen Elizabeth did too.)