A New Take on a Slightly Obscure Hymn

I love going through hymnals and remembering the times I have sung various hymns throughout my time as a Christian. I have a copy of the Trinity Hymnal that I am certain my Dad “borrowed” from our church. He was a drummer, so my guess is that it came home to practice with and never found its way back. The church I grew up in was part of the Conservative Christian Congregationalist Conference and the Trinity Hymnal is the official hymnal of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Both of these denominations have their roots in the Calvinism that swept through Scotland and England after the Reformation. Today I was reminded of singing this hymn in church, wondered how this became such a focal understanding for our specific congregation, and realized how much it taught me about God’s priorities and the futility of trusting human agendas.

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah (Hymn 53 from the Trinity Hymnal 1962 edition) has a few obvious problems to the modern singer, including the scholarship that tells us we got the name of God wrong back in the old days because we didn’t take into account the cultural prohibition against speaking God’s name that pervades Jewish understandings of human relation to God. We missed the pointers to the Hebrew word Elohim in the vowel dots above the letters JHVH. There is also a little unconscious sexism in the use of masculine pronouns for everything. However, the underlying message that is based on Psalm 146 is pretty relevant to Christians living in ultimately self-destructive human political and economic systems, empires, and fear-mongering culture wars. I felt a leading to update this classic hymn to reflect modern political structures and would love to hear from you about how you do or don’t find this relevant to our life together or if you have suggestions for refining the update. (I apologize for the few timing issues, I didn’t have accompaniment available.)

Hallelujah Praise Jehovah the LORD

Hallelujah, Praise the LORD, O my soul, our savior praise;

I will sing the glorious praises of our God through all my days.

Put no faith in politicians, nor on humans’ help depend;

They shall die, to dust returning, and their purposes shall end.

 

Happy is the one who chooses Israel’s God to be their aid;

We are blessed whose hope of blessing on the Lord our God is stayed.

Heav’n and Earth the Lord created, Seas and all that they contain;

God Delivers from oppression, Righteousness God will maintain.

 

Food God daily gives the hungry, Sets the mourning prisoner free,

Raises those bowed down with anguish, Makes the sightless eyes to see.

God Almighty loves the righteous, And the strangers God befriends;

Helps the orphaned and abandoned, Judgment on oppressors sends.

 

Hallelujah, Praise the LORD, O my soul, our savior praise;

I will sing the glorious praises of our God through all my days.

Over all God reigns forever, Through all ages is our King;

Unto our God, O blessed family, Joyful Hallelujahs sing.

(Click here to read the original.)

 

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