Saturday, April 2, 2011


Sing praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love,
The God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled
And every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.

What God's almighty power hath made,
His gracious mercy keepeth;
By morning glow or evening shade
His watchful eye ne'er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of His might,
Lo! all is just and all is right:
To God all praise and glory.

The Lord is never far away,
But, through all grief distressing,
An ever-present help and stay,
Our peace, and joy, and blessing;
As with a mother's tender hand,
He leads His own, His chosen band:
To God all praise and glory.

Thus, all my gladsome way along,
I sing aloud Thy praises,
That men may hear the grateful song
My voice unwearied raises,
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart,
Both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory.
- Johann J. Schuetz, 1675, trans. by Frances E. Cox, 1864

God is not like us.  We are, in a very real sense, like God.  We bear His image.  But God is not bound by the human barriers we can't escape.  We have to remember that.  When God gets angry, He's not angry like we get angry.  When God loves, He doesn't love like we love.  When He grieves, it's not like us.  He is the perfect example of all these things. 

There are really two reasons we worship God.  First, we worship God because of what he's done in the world and in our lives.  Theologians call this God's "imminence," because he is imminent in that He works in and around us; he's our Creator and Redeemer.  We worship him because he created the world and gave us our life and keeps creating all the time as he keeps this old world spinning.  And we worship God because of the way he redeemed us with the most amazing story.  Those two facets make up the first reason. 

We do a pretty good job of writing songs that praise God for His presence with us (His imminence). 

Second, we worship God because of His omnipotent and omniscient character, which would be the same even if we weren't here.  This is often called the "transcendence" of God.  Because God is completely holy, just and righteous no matter what He does in our world, He is worthy. 

We don't always do a very good job on this one.  My guess is that it's because these characteristics are impossible for us to get our mind around.  We know that God is all-powerful.  But do we really have a good idea exactly what that looks like?  Not really.  But we still have to worship a transcendent God even if we don't understand it.

This hymn does a good job of both.  God is both imminent ("The Lord is never far away")  and transcendent ("Sing praise to God who reigns above").  For this reason, this is a very good hymn text. 

Check it out here - not the greatest video, but the organ is freakin' sweet.

Another sweet organ version.

1 comment:

  1. I like hearing an organ referred to as "freakin' sweet". You are right on in regard to hymns that reflect God's transcendence. It is hard to wrap our brains around.