Behind the Music
O Worship the King, written by Robert Grant, has been hailed by many as the greatest hymn written in the English language. The hymn was inspired by and is actually a reworking of Psalm 104. Robert Grant was an English political figure who was deeply concerned about social issues. He was the son of Charles Grant, the director of the East India Company. Robert Grant did not follow in his father's work but instead won a seat in Parliament. He spent his time fighting for minority groups.
One of my favorite lines in the hymn by Grant reads, "O measureless might! Ineffable love! While angels delight to worship Thee above." The use of the descriptive word ineffable makes the line jump out to me. Well-written texts often give us the opportunity to teach theology through rich lyrics. The word ineffable carries the idea that there are no words able to adequately describe the subject that is being referenced. How true this is of our God.
Below you will find some resources to learn more about the hymn as well as a comparison between Grant's hymn and Psalm 104. Enjoy!
Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts. The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the junipers. The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the hyrax. He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then people go out to their work, to their labor until evening. How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious,teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the Lord, my soul. Praise the Lord.
O Worship the King
O Worship the King, all glorious above, And gratefully sing His wonderful love; Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days, Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise. O tell of His might, O Sing of His grace, Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space! His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.
Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite? It breathes in the air, it shines in the light, It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain, And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail: Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end, Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend