Hymn of the Week: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (LOBE DEN HERREN)

 Hymn Title: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Tune Name: LOBE DEN HERREN

Meter: 86.86.4.7.8.

An absolute staple hymn, Praise to the Lord has been published in 376 different hymnals, according to Hymnary.org - and it deserves this widespread fame. With a metrical pattern that only a German Chorale Master could dream up, you won't find any other text set to this tune, nor this tune with any other set of words. So why am I bothering to make it available to you, when I could be featuring other, more obscure hymns? Well, because I want to draw your attention to it - sometimes a gold standard gets cast aside as "too common," and falls out of use. Also your hymnal might have watered the words down, and we can't have that.

LOBE DEN HERREN is a strong, singable tune, with a solid, rational arrangement. The long opening lines should be sung in one breath if possible, which should give you a sense of the kind of brisk tempo this piece demands, unless you are in a large, especially live, setting. The trumpet call opening the third line should crescendo to the high note: "All ye who hear!" An undeniable summons to worship.

Now, because of this summons ("All ye who hear, now to His altar draw near"), this hymn is almost always used as a processional, which is perfectly suitable. However, unless your celebrant is fond of very slowly using copious amounts of incense, this means that your congregation often won't get to hear the third and fourth verses, which is a shame. Recently I placed this song as the Offertory hymn. Since the shift from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Eucharist is also, in a sense, a moment in which to approach the altar, there should be nothing jarring about this placement.

So go ahead. Sing Praise to the Lord. Along with Holy God We Praise Thy Name, and other standbys, remember that they are standbys for a reason.


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