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Source:
Singing the Faith: 83
Words:
Henry Francis Lyte
Music:
“Praise, my soul” by John Goss
Metre:
87.87.44.7.
Verses:
4
 
 

Ideas for use

In this day and age, hopefully we’ve moved beyond simply allocating verse three to the women and children because of the line, “well our feeble frame he knows”. For Henry Lyte, that phrase was part of a wider contemplation of our mortality, as apt for men as for anybody else (see the omitted verse reproduced below). That said, this is a hymn that does lend itself to varying the voices between verses and lines.

E.g. Verse 2: have lighter voices sing lines 1-2; weightier voices sing lines 3-4; all join together for the final refrain (“Praise him! Praise him!”).

E.g. if you have a strong solo voice in your midst, consider having all or part of verse 1 sung as a solo (as has become familiar the opening verse of Once in royal David’s city).

More information

This hymn is a paraphrase of Psalm 103. It was first published in a collection of Henry Lyte’s hymns, Spirit of the Psalms (1834). Originally, there were five verses, with verse 4 (corresponding to verses 15-17 of the psalm) bracketed for omission if desired – as it is in Singing the Faith. The words of this omitted verse (which connects with the “feeble frame” of verse 3 in StF) have something of the valedictory but hopeful tone of Lyte’s most famous hymn, Abide with me (StF 141):

Frail as summer's flower we flourish;
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But, while mortals rise and perish,
God endures unchanging on:
Praise him! Praise him!
Praise the high eternal One.

Henry Lyte was born in Ednam in the Scottish Borders in 1873 and was educated in Ireland. Originally he intended to pursue medicine but decided instead that the ministry was “a worthwhile profession”. He served as a curate in Ireland and later in Cornwall and Hampshire before moving to Lower Brixham. As well as 'Abide with me', other of his hymns include Praise the Lord, his glories show (StF 84).