Christians throughout history have been adept
at finding new ways to praise God in song, leaving us with difficult
choices when it comes to selecting those 600 to 800 songs to print in
bound volumes. Liturgical reform is an inherently controversial
subject, and those charged with the task have a difficult and thankless
job—trying to please both those who prefer traditional and those who
What is it about a “traditional hymn” that
brings us comfort and confidence, as well as relevance and vibrancy in
modern and uncertain times?
Sing praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of wonders, pow’r, and love,
The God of our salvation;
With healing balm my soul he fills,
The God who ev’ry sorrow stills—
To God all praise and glory!
(Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above, text by Johann J. Schütz)
text of this great Lutheran hymn of the post-Reformation period was
introduced to the English-speaking world by an Anglican laywoman 200
years after its writing. As such, it’s both traditional and modern,
depending on who you are and when you are singing. It shows why
traditional hymns continue to speak to Christians around the world.
opening stanza sets the most important ground rule: our praise of God
is grounded firmly in who God is and what God has done. We are in for a
whirlwind tour. Like the Scriptures themselves, as well as the
eucharistic prayers offered in many of our churches, this hymn starts
from God in majesty—creating the world, demonstrating signs and
wonders—and finally coming to each of us personally. And all this in
less than 100 words.
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