Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (iTunes)
Words by Joachim Neander, Music from Erneuerten Gesangbuch
From the album Kingdom Come (Jill Phillips)

Considered the prominent hymn writer of the German Reformed Church, Joachim Neander (1650-1680) wrote around 60 hymns in all, composing tunes for many of them. In 1874, he moved to Düsseldorf to serve as a Latin teacher. During this time, he often visited the Düssel river valley to enjoy God's creation and to write. The area was later named in his honor (Neanderthal, "thal" meaning valley in German), and, incidentally, was the location where the remains of Homo neanderthalensis were found in 1856.  Neander is best known for his beloved hymn, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." He crafted the text around verses from Psalms 103 and 150. It was first published in 1680, the same year Neander died at the age of 30 of tuberculosis. English translator Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) published the text in English in 1863. She is well-known for bringing many of the great German hymns to the English-speaking world, as well as promoting women's rights in England.

The tune, known as Lobe den herren ("Praise to the Lord" in German), was first put into print in 1665. It has appeared in numerous different versions, paired with sacred and secular texts, and is probably based on a folk tune.

This week's recording is by Nashville singer-songwriter Jill Phillips. She toured with Christian artists Caedmon's Call and Bebo Norman before starting her independent career. "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" comes from her fourth album, Kingdom Come, which was first released in 2005.