Sing the Lord’s praise, every nation

Today’s song from Sing Praise is ‘Sing the Lord’s praise, every nation’ by Paul Inwood. It is in the form of two verses with a refrain with two vocal parts in a call-and-echo format.  The first verse is a setting of Psalm 117, the shortest of the Psalms, urging people of all nations to praise God for his faithfulness. The second is a Christian doxology (praise to the Trinity), and the chorus is a version of the Orthodox Trisagion (thrice holy).  As such I don’t think there’s much more that can be said, other than that the practice of sung praise to God binds the Jewish and Christian faith in all times and (nearly) all traditions.

1 thought on “Sing the Lord’s praise, every nation”

  1. Stephen has summarised this song very well: the chorus is the “Trisagion” (which forms the basis of the refrain “Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy on us” – see the “Lent – Holy Week – Easter” book which shortly followed the ASB), verse 1 is Psalm 117, and verse 2 is the Gloria which Anglican tradition puts at the end of every Psalm. In the case of this particular Psalm, the psalm is so short that it takes up only a small fraction of the resulting song.

    I guess that if one thought of the Psalter as a hymn book, then most of the Psalms would be hymns, but this one would be a short chorus. Modern hymn books didn’t handle this dynamic very well until “Mission Praise” came along, and a book like “Hymns for Today’s Church” was embarrassed enough about the song-style items that it included a “song supplement” at its end. But in the “Mission Praise” scenario, Psalm 117 would be seen as a kind of “chorus” item.

    I think writers like Paul Inwood would do well to see if perhaps the shortest psalms could be combined with other biblical texts. It goes quite well with Psalm 150, for instance, with v1 forming the first verse and v2 the chorus; and then Ps 150:1 forming the second verse, Ps 150:2 the third and so on, each time returning to Ps 117:2 as a chorus. Maybe this approach could also work with “psalms” like the one recorded in 2 Chron 5:13, 7:3, 20:21 and Ezra 3:11?

    I didn’t like this song very much. I thought the C-major chord (the third in the progression) was odd, and although the ear can get used to anything, it took mine a long time to get used to this. I didn’t warm to the way the verse simply halved the speed of the chorus’ chord progression without varying it, and although the two-part canon worked adequately it didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. But over all, I didn’t feel it really made Psalm 117 into anything memorable. And I always complain when hymn books put a page-turn in the middle of a hymn: I felt this was quite unnecessary in this case, as with a bit of compression the music easily goes on a double-page spread.

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