“We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners.”
– Desmond Tutu
Joachim Neander, creator of the hymn Praise to the Lord, was the stereotypical “PK” (Pastor’s Kid). His father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather – all named Joachim – had all been in the ministry. But the youngest Joachim was a bit of a ruffian who liked to make trouble. One night he joined some friends to heckle worshipers at St. Martin Church in Bremen but was so moved by the sermon that he instead changed his ways and devoted himself to a life of faith. A few years later, he became an assistant pastor at the very same church where he had his conversion.
After his call to the ministry, Joachim liked to take long walks in a valley near his home and he composed hymns as he strolled. During one of his walks, he crafted the text Praise to the Lord altering an existing tune to fit his lyrics. He published the completed hymn in German in 1680 and his match between text and tune has endured through the years.
In 1863, Catherine Winkworth, a gifted British hymn translator, translated the first three verses of Neander’s Praise to the Lord from German into English and the last two verses were translated anonymously. New alternate English texts have been written, some quite recently, but none has ever gained the popularity of the Neander-Winkworth original.
Praise to the Lord’s tune, Lobe Den Herren, is such a beloved tune that it’s been the foundation for adaptations ranging from a J.S. Bach church cantata (BWV 137) to recordings by modern worship artists. I chose to match it to another hymn of praise – I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Hosanna, Loud Hosanna) – to create a fun and festive piano medley that’s especially great for Holy Week celebrations. Enjoy!
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
Come, all who hear; now to his temple draw near,
join me in glad adoration.