Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

November 8

German hymn, c. 1800
Translated by Edward Caswall, 1814–1878
I will extol the Lord at all times: His praise will always be on my lips. (Psalm 34:1)
Forms of worship services vary according to the cultural backgrounds, personalities, and traditions of the believers. Some Christians feel that true worship is best achieved when it is conducted in a structured, liturgical, and meditative setting. Other believers prefer a more free, spontaneous, informal praise and testimony type of service. Forms of worship are not important in themselves. In fact, a variety of worship forms is healthy within the evangelical community. However, we must never get so caught up in the forms and means of worship that we fail to focus on the object of all worship—the praise of Jesus Christ!
One of the important sources of English hymnody is the wealth of worthy hymns translated from earlier Greek, Latin, and German sources during the mid 19th century. Many English writers’ interest in the hymns from these other cultures was largely a part of a movement within the Anglican church known as the Oxford Movement. The rediscovery of earlier and ancient hymns became especially important during this time. One of the leaders of this movement was Edward Caswall, a well-known scholar, minister, and translator. Caswall is also the translator of another important hymn about our Lord, “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.” Throughout his life Caswall kept adding new verses to “May Jesus Christ Be Praised” until eventually this hymn included 28 stanzas.
These words still have an important place in our church services as they direct our attention to the basic purpose of all worship:
When morning gilds the skies, my heart awaking cries: May Jesus Christ be praised! Alike at work and prayer to Jesus I repair: May Jesus Christ be praised!
Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find: May Jesus Christ be praised! Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this: May Jesus Christ be praised!
In heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this: May Jesus Christ be praised! The pow’rs of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear: May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine: May Jesus Christ be praised! Be this th’ eternal song thru all the ages long: May Jesus Christ be praised!

    For Today: Psalm 5:3; 57:7; 69:34; John 14:6, 9; 20:31; Revelation 11:15; 17:14

What does the term worship mean to you? Is your understanding founded on the praise of Christ? Identify activities in a church service as well as in our own devotional lives that are often substituted for the true worship of God. Determine to praise Christ throughout the day with this hymn—

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