Ascribed a "magnificent hymn of praise to God," Joachim Neander (1650-1680) composed these lines in the year of his death. They stand in stark contrast to the praise of folly celebrated in his youth. At age twenty, while studying at Bremen, Neander and a group of friends went for sport to hear a preacher, yet the record reflects that the "fools who came to scoff remained to pray."
Neander, whose name means "new man," spent the rest of his short life serving God and became one of the great hymn writers of Germany. The beauty of his native land was an inspiration for his hymns, and creation was a common theme.
So oft was Neander found among the hills and valleys that the region was named for him. How ironic that the Neanderthal Valley, renowned by those who reject the Creator, bears the name of a preacher who penned praise to the King of Creation!
After tutoring in Frankfort, Neander was nominated headmaster in Düsseldorf. Yet, the zeal for Christ within caused him to seek the spiritual good, not only of the student but of the entire town. He reached to all that would hear until opposition intensified to his forced departure from the town. He fled to a cave on the Rhine near Mettman for some months; there, he spent time composing some of his hymns. The place became known as Neander's Cave.
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near,
Join me in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord! Who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under his wings, yea so gently sustaineth;
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what he ordaineth?
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
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him!
Gladly for aye we adore him!
This historical account is taken from the Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs hymnal, songs 22 and 23, copyright 2018, all rights reserved.
Melody Publications' focus is to reawaken the melody of truth in believers' hearts and minds at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing "Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in praise and worship to our God.
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What a delight to read the story behind the hymn writer of this great hymn. Thank you for featuring Joachim Neander