All You Works of God Bless the Lord

This Thursday is the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  Although this is a civil occasion and not an observance on the Christian calendar, our church will be holding a Thanksgiving service on Wednesday night.  I really see a Thanksgiving service as a First Article celebration. For those of you who don’t speak catechism, this means that on Thanksgiving we give thanks to our heavenly Father who provides us with everything we need to support this body and life.  We should really be doing this everyday throughout the year, but this occasion provides a great opportunity to do so.

One of our hymns will be All You Works of God, Bless the Lord, a hymn that is new to my congregation but really catchy and fun to sing.  The hymn has the unique distinction of being  Ancient-Roman Catholic-Contemporary Lutheran- and Jamaican.  Perhaps that sentence requires some explanation. The text of the hymn is a paraphrase of the Song of the Three Young Men, which has often been included in the book of Daniel, as Daniel 3:26-90.  The authenticity of this text, along with other books called the “Deuterocanonical” books, or the “Apocryphal books”, have been called into question throughout history.  These writings include 1st and 2nd Macabees (the story of Hanukah), Tobias, and others.  They were included in the ancient Greek Septuagint translation of the Bible, but not Jerome’s Latin version of the bible called the Vulgate. At the reformation, these books were not considered to be Scripture by the Protestants and I would guess that many Protestants today do not even know they exist. These writings continue to be included in many Roman Catholic bibles to this day, and so we often think of them as “Roman Catholic”.  However, a few years ago, contemporary Lutheran hymn-writer named Stephen Starke wrote a paraphrase of part of the “Song of Three Young Men” called “All You Works of God Bless the Lord”.  I don’t know if Starke found the tune, but it was placed together with a Jamaican tune and now we have the Ancient-Roman Catholic-Contemporary Lutheran- Jamaican hymn.

Like I mentioned above, the text of the “Song of Three Young Men” is included in Daniel chapter 3 in the story often called “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (although their proper Hebrew names were Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah).  The three young men are thrown into a fire for refusing to bow down and worship an image of the king.  As they are thrown into the fire, Azariah prays a powerful prayer admitting that Israel deserves to be in exile for their sins.  He also prays to God to accept their sacrifice of a contrite heart since the temple has been destroyed.  The young men are thrown into the fire and God sends an angel to rescue them.  They then praise God, while still in the fire, with the following song:

 

Then the three, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed, God in the furnace, saying,

29: Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.

30: And blessed is thy glorious and holy name: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.

31: Blessed art thou in the temple of thine holy glory: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever.

32: Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.

33: Blessed art thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever.

34: Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: and above all to be praised and glorified for ever.

35: O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord : praise and exalt him above all for ever,

36: O ye heavens, bless ye the Lord : praise and exalt him above all for ever. 37: O ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

38: O all ye waters that be above the heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

39: O all ye powers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

40: O ye sun and moon, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

41: O ye stars of heaven, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

42: O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

43: O all ye winds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever,

44: O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

45: O ye winter and summer, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

46: 0 ye dews and storms of snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

47: O ye nights and days, bless ye the Lord: bless and exalt him above all for ever.

48: O ye light and darkness, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

49: O ye ice and cold, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

50: O ye frost and snow, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

51: O ye lightnings and clouds, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

52: O let the earth bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

53: O ye mountains and little hills, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

54: O all ye things that grow in the earth, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

55: O ye mountains, bless ye the Lord: Praise and exalt him above all for ever.

56: O ye seas and rivers, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

57: O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

58: O all ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

59: O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

60: O ye children of men, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

61: O Israel, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

62: O ye priests of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

63: O ye servants of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

64: O ye spirits and souls of the righteous, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

65: O ye holy and humble men of heart, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

66: O Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever: far he hath delivered us from hell, and saved us from the hand of death, and delivered us out of the midst of the furnace and burning flame: even out of the midst of the fire hath he delivered us.

67: O give thanks unto the Lord, because he is gracious: for his mercy endureth for ever.

68: O all ye that worship the Lord, bless the God of gods, praise him, and give him thanks: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Whether or not the three young men ever spoke these words, it is a meaningful song of praise and thanksgiving.  They are overjoyed that even under captivity and persecution, God heard their prayer and delivered them from the burning flame. They call upon all creation to join them in their song.

Our paraphrase of the song for our Thanksgiving service really focuses on the part of the song that calls upon all creation to come and bless the Lord (verses 35-65).  It fits very well with this week, as we thank our God for creating all things and providing us with all we need.  Here’s the text of the hymn:

 

All you works of God, bless the Lord!

All you angels, now bless the Lord;

Come, you heavens and pow’rs that be,

Praise the Lord and His majesty:

Refrain (after each stanza)

Raise your voices high, praise and magnify,

All you works of God, bless the Lord!

Raise your voices high, praise and magnify,

All you works of God, bless the Lord!

Sing, you sun and you moon above,

Stars of heaven, now sing His love;

Dew and showers, you winds that blow,

Heat and fire, you ice and snow:

Frost of winter with song so cold,

Dews of summer, your song unfold;

Light and darkness, you day and night,

Clouds and thunder, you lightnings bright:

Hills and mountains, now sing His worth,

All you green things that grow on earth;

Seas and rivers, you springs and wells,

Beasts and cattle, you birds and whales:

Come, humanity, sing along,

Sing, you people of God, a song;

Priests and servants, your Lord now bless,

Join, you spirits and souls at rest:

Bless the Lord, all you pure of heart;

All you humble, His praise impart;

God the Father and Son adore,

Bless the Spirit forevermore!

 

Have a great thanksgiving.

 

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4 thoughts on “All You Works of God Bless the Lord

    1. The tune we used is called LINSTEAD, which is found in Lutheran Service Book. The notes in the hymnal say that it was adapted by Doreen Potter and that the music is copyrighted 1975 by Hope Publishing Co.

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