Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation
Text: Origins. The German hymn “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren” is by Joachim Neander (1650-1680), from his A und Ω. Joachimi Neandri Glaub- und Liebesübung (1680 | Fig. 1), originally in five stanzas. The header includes a reference to Psalm 103:1 (“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”). Both pages of the text feature the melody and figured bass line on the opposing pages.
Text: Translation. Neander’s hymn was translated into English by Catherine Winkworth (1827–1878) for The Chorale Book for England (London, 1863 | 1865 ed. shown in Fig. 2), with music edited by William Sterndale Bennett & Otto Goldschmidt. Winkworth’s version contained only four stanzas, having combined the original second and third stanzas into stanza two. Scriptural allusions include Psalm 61:4 (“Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!”), Psalm 23:6 (“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”), and Psalm 150:6 (“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”). Winkworth’s translation is generally regarded as being faithful to the German, but is not without its departures. Her final stanza, for example, omits the reference to Abraham, which would tie the covenant promise of Genesis 17:7 with the picture of worship in Psalm 150:6.
Some pastors, church musicians, or worshipers might object to the temple language in stanza one, setting the temple as a place, as opposed to the New Testament concept of the body of each believer serving as the temple where the Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 6:19). This line is frequently changed by hymnal compilers. In The English Hymnal (1906), this became “brothers and sisters draw near,” or in the Episcopal Hymnal 1940 and Hymnal 1982, this became “Join the great throng, psaltery, organ, and song,” which is closer to the original German and ties the hymn more closely to Psalm 150.
Fig. 2. The Chorale Book for England, with Supplement (London, 1865).
Tune. In Neander’s 1680 collection (Fig. 1), the tune was labeled “Hastu dann Jesu dein Angesicht &c.” Neander was probably referencing Johann Crüger’s Praxis Pietatis Melica (ed. Peter Sohren, 1668), where the hymn appeared as no. 822, “Hast du dann Jesu dein Angesicht gänzlich verborgen” (Fig. 3).
In Crüger’s collection, the minuscule melody and its accompanying figured bass line are difficult to read; the melody was transcribed in Johannes Zahn’s Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder, vol. 1 (1893), at no. 1912b (Fig. 4). Neander’s version of the melody appears as no. 1912c; the oldest version is from Ander Theil des Erneuerten Gesangbuchs, part 2 (Stralsund, 1665), but the last surviving copy was reportedly destroyed in the bombing of Hamburg in World War II. None of these versions match the melody printed in The Chorale Book for England (Fig. 2).
Fig. 4. Johannes Zahn, Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder, vol. 1 (1893).
The version of LOBE DEN HERREN consulted by the musical editors of The Chorale Book for England is unknown, but it can be pieced together with some of the variants shown in Zahn, referencing melody 1912a, with the first three notes of variant 1, as in Daniel Speeren, Choral Gesang-buch (1692), variants 2 and 3 from Johann Falcken, Uff Eines Hoch-Edel (1701), and variant 5 from Oft-Friesisches Morgen- und Zbendopfer (Zurich, 1708). A similar version of the melody appeared in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata BWV 137, movement 5 (1725 | Fig. 5), with the only significant difference being in measure 4.
See also the argument by Robin Leaver, in The Hymnal 1982 Companion (NY, 1994), vol. 3B, no. 390, for a possible secular origin of the tune, as in the song “Seh’ ich nicht blinckende,” dated as early as 1679.
by CHRIS FENNER
for Hymnology Archive
2 August 2018
J.R. Watson, “Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren,” The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:
J.R. Watson, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation,” The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” on Hymnary.org: