Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Without our aid He did us make"

"All People That on Earth Do Dwell" is, one authority states, "the earliest hymn written in the English language which is still in general use today." It is from about 1561. The tune to which it is usually sung, Old Hundredth, is even older. The line from the second verse, quoted above, has always been for me a seemly reminder of my status — He doesn't need my advice.

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell,
Come ye before him, and rejoice.
For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.
The Lord, ye know, is God indeed,
Without our aid he did us make;
We are his folk, he doth us feed,
And for his sheep he doth us take.
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The God whom heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel-host
Be praise and glory evermore.
O enter then his gates with praise,
Approach with joy his courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless his name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

Ian Bradley, The Penguin Book of Hymns, 1989.

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