In the eighth century, an unknown poet wrote a prayer asking God to be his Vision, his Wisdom, and his Best Thought by day or by night. In 1905, Mary Elizabeth Byrne, a scholar in Dublin, Ireland, translated this ancient Irish poem into English. Another scholar, Eleanor Hull of Manchester, England, took Byrne’s translation and crafted it into verses with rhyme and meter. Shortly thereafter it was set to a traditional Irish folk song, “Slane,” named for an area in Ireland where St. Patrick reportedly challenged local Druids with the gospel. It is one of our oldest and most moving hymns.
This hymn was written by Joachim Neander; born in 1650, whose father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather - all Joachim Neanders - had been preachers of the gospel. But as a student, Joachim was wild and rebellious. At 20, he joined a group of students who descended on St. Martin’s Church in Bremen to ridicule and scoff worshipers. But the sermon that day be Rev. Theodore Under-Eyck arrested him and led him to conversion. A few hearts later, he was the assistant preacher at that very church.
Joachim often took long walks near his home in Hochdal, Germany. They were worship walks, and he frequently composed hymns as he strolled, singing them to the Lord. He was the first hymnwriter from the Calvinist branch of Protestantism. When he was 30 - the year he died - he wrote this while battling tuberculosis:
Praise Ye The Lord, The Almighty, the King of creation. O my soul praise Him, for He is Thy health and salvation.
Praise To The Lord, The Almighty
Praise Ye The Lord, The Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul praise Him, for He is Thy health and salvation!
Allye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord! Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath come now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen sound from His people again;
Gladly for aye we adore Him.