January 20 Featured Hymn: "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above"

"Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above" by Johann Jakob

Bulletin Blurb

Deuteronomy 32:3 was the basis for this hymn of praise – “For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!” (ESV) Using a variety of metaphors for God and for His works, this text overflows with proclamations of God's loving care for His people.

Text

Johann Jakob Schütz wrote this hymn of praise in German with nine stanzas. In 1675 he published it in his Christliches Gedenkbüchlein. The most common English translation in use is by Frances E. Cox from 1864, which was published in Orby Shipley's Lyra Eucharistica and her own Hymns from the German. Catherine Winkworth has also made a translation.

This hymn is typically published with four stanzas. Stanza 1 always opens the hymn, and the original stanzas 2 and 6 are never used. Different hymnals include various selections from the remaining stanzas. There is some variation in wording, due to multiple translations and many alterations by hymnal editors. One textual difference affects the meaning of the opening line of stanza 7, “Thus all my gladsome way along.” A few hymnals have “toilsome” in place of “gladsome.” The German original does not contain either adjective; it simply says “all my life long.” Most hymnals have “gladsome,” which implies a life perspective that the joy of the Lord becomes deeply ingrained in one's soul. If “toilsome” is used, it implies that, even though life is often hard, God is good, and can help the Christian endure. Each stanza ends with a brief refrain.

Tune

The most common tune used with this text is MIT FREUDEN ZART, which is an anonymous German tune named after an Easter hymn by Georg Vetter. It first appeared in a Bohemian Brethren hymnal in 1566, hence the alternate title BOHEMIAN BRETHREN. Sing this tune boldly with bright accompaniment. Experiment with both unison and harmonized singing.

Another tune that is used occasionally is LOBT GOTT DEN HERREN, IHR by Melchior Vulpius. It was published in 1609 with the text for which it was written and named, an Epiphany hymn by Joachim Sartorius. It has been paired with Schütz's text only in the last century.

When/Why/How

This hymn extols the greatness of God in giving all good things to His people, and calls on us to continue to give God the praise He richly deserves. It could be paired with another hymn such as in “Doxology of Praise” , which presents “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” as an introduction and conclusion to “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above;” the piano accompaniment can be augmented with the optional brass and percussion. The bright tones of handbells, trumpet, and handchimes demonstrate the joyous mood of “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above.” LOBT GOTT DEN HERREN, IHR might not be the best choice for congregational singing because it is not a familiar tune, but it is a good choice for a choral setting of “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above” – with an optional flute part.

View this hymn at Hymnary.org.


It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing Hymnary.org or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support Hymnary.org.