Gladly for Aye…

gladly-we-adore-him-1One of my dear brothers asked me what my favorite hymn was, and I said “Praise to the Lord the Almighty” written by Joakim Neander. You may not have heard of him before, but I am sure you have heard of the hymn. The only Joakim we know in these parts is a guy who plays for the Chicago Bulls.

Neander was a German poet and hymn writer who lived after the Reformation (16th century). He was also a pastor in the Reformed Church. He wrote 60 hymns and loved to wander among the caves and ravines of a certain valley by the Dussel River. Like many, he was most creative when he was out in God’s creation. The valley eventually was named after him—Neander-thal (valley). Sound familiar? This was the very place where the fossilized remains of an early human was found whom they called Neanderthal Man.

Joakim had been shaped not only by the theology of the Reformation, but also by Pietism and its emphasis on the heart. You can sense the impact of these two influences in his hymns: the majesty of a Sovereign God who plans, controls, and guides; the compassionate of a God who loves and cares and is worthy of our continual adoration. Joakim left us a significant legacy even though he died at the age of 30 from tuberculosis.

The original hymn had six verses, though only four show up in most hymnals. You can check them out for yourself, but let me point out just a few that have blessed me:

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Some hear Psalm 150 in this verse. I hear Psalm 139; “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless his holy name … Who forgives all your iniquities and heals all your diseases.” Neander wrote “praise him, for he is thy health and salvation.” It makes me wonder how much he struggled with sickness before he eventually succumbed. What a beautiful thought: God is my health.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

These two verses are not usually in the hymnal. What a great hope they give in the face of the darkness and madness raging around us because of human sin. God is in control. He not only restrains evil, but surrounds his saints with mercy. Though we feel overwhelmed, he will chase the darkness away. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you…” (Isa 43:2).

The last verse is incredible. Imagine a huge pipe organ the size of Texas playing an introduction to this and the voices of million angels and humans singing this into the darkness of this crappy world:

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Note the very last phrase, “gladly for aye.” The word is pronounced “I” and can mean “yes” or “yes sir” (aye aye). As an adverb, however, it also means “always, continually, and forever.” This is the use of the word here: “Gladly (delightfully, enthusiastically, willingly, joyfully, passionately) let us forever and always adore HIM.” Amen.

(There are so many music videos of this hymn on the web, but you need to find one with an organ. Open the following link and sing along with the lyrics.)


16 thoughts on “Gladly for Aye…

      1. Jeff Johnson

        We could also get the mp3 and play it thru Bill Gilette’s CF 18 inch woofers. Not as aesthetically pleasing but it could shake the rafters.
        Thanks for explaining “Aye”. The song will mean more next time we sing it.
        Jeff Johnson

  1. Mark Machak

    If you get a pipe organ the size of Texas, you can power it with all the hot air that is flowing around Washington, DC. Just think of all “that” hot air used to power up that hymn. Great blog again Dave.

  2. LOVE this hymn! My word-a-day calendar today was on “aye”, used as an adverb. It says it is pronounced to rhyme with “say” when used in this way. I’m going to sing it like this so people ask me questions about it! 🙂

    1. finally, a smart person who doesn’t just go along with the crowd… 1aye
      adverb \ˈā\
      Definition of aye
      : always, continually, ever You will not get comments, I bet. People will just think you are wrong.

    2. Karen Herron

      I was at Bear Trap Ranch in the Colorado Rockies when I was taught this hymn. I learned that the words “for aye” meant “for ever,” and that “aye” in this instance was pronounced “say.”. I’ve sung it that way ever since and will sing it that way “for aye!”

  3. Bea

    I was saying ,my morniing Universalis prayers and Liturgy of the Hours and saw the word “aye” used in one and went all over the internet to find what it meant. I thought it meant yes but not sure. Thanks for clafifying for me. Beatrice

  4. Bea

    This is the hymn I found the word aye in but I don’t know the music. It is familiar and I know we have sung it at mass but, not sure how it goes.
    O God of greatest Clemency, Who made’st this wondrous world to be, in Power essential unity, In Person Holy Trinity, To us arising give Thy Hand, Help us with sober minds to stand, Aflame with love, and to Thee pay, Our debt of thanks, our praise for aye.
    To Thee all glory Father Lord, and to Thy Sole begotten Word, Both with the Holy Spirit One, while Everlasting Ages run

  5. Chris

    “Bless the Lord, O my soul….” — This passage is from Psalm 103 rather than 139. I remembered because it was my grandmother’s favorite psalm.

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