Stephen P. Starke, b. 1955
Gustav Holst, 1874-1934
Revelation 7:9-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Psalm 89:26

The following article was orginally published on the Southern Lutheran Kantor website

We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God

One of my favorite new hymns from Lutheran Service Book is LSB 941 “We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God.”  As it says in the notes “This hymn is a versification of the Te Deum laudamus.”)  Another good versification of the Te Deum is LSB 940 “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name,” although you can’t get all the stanzas of the Te Deum unless you have the Lutheran Service Builder, which has the additional stanzas.)  This versification is done by Pastor Stephen Starke, a prolific hymn-writer who has many hymns in LSB.  The tune is from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, specificall the movement “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity.”  The tune is from a section in the middle of the movement.  Both text and tune combine to create a majestic hymn that confesses so much about our God and especially what He has done for us by sending Christ to redeem the world.

It is difficult to know what to say about this hymn, because it says so much already.  I will focus on the middle two stanzas.  Stanza two gives great imagery about the Universal Church, composed of Christians both here on Earth and in Heaven.  This is very similiar to the Proper Preface in Holy Communion, which concludes with, “…Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and singing: Holy, Holy, Holy…”  The band of the apostles in glory sing Your praise; The fellowship of prophets their deathless voices raise.  The martyrs of Your kingdom, a great and noble throng, Sing with the holy Church throughout all the world this song:  “O all-majestic Father, Your true and only Son, And Holy Spirit, Conforter — forever Three in One!” It is such a comfort to know that when we come to the Lord’s Supper we are joining not just with the members of our local congregation, and not merely those who are still alive, but with all Christians throughout all time.  When I receive the Lord’s Body and Blood I am also communing with my grandparents and great-grandparents and all those who went before me in the faith.  At the same time I am communing with my parents, family, and friends who are still here on this Earth.  The Te Deum expresses these ideas so beautifully.

The third stanza reflects what Christ has done for us, echoing the second article of the Apostles’ Creed.  You, Christ, are King of glory, the everlasting Son, Yet You, with boundless love, sought to rescue ev’ryone: You laid aside Your glory, were born of virgin’s womb, Were crucified for us and were placed into a tomb;  Then by Your resurrection you won for us reprieve — You opened heaven’s kingdom to all who would believe. In beautifully poetic language this stanza tells us why we praise this great God.  It is because of Christ’s death and resurrection that we are able to sing to our God, indeed this is the best reason of all to sing!  Christ died for me, was raised again for me, and grants faith to me in the waters of Holy Baptism.  Great news indeed!

I commend the entire hymn to your study.  If you’d like to listen to it (and I strongly suggest you do) here are two links:  the first is from the Lutheran Hymn Festival in Dallas in 2004, and the second is from the Kantorei of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Have a blessed Festival of the Holy Trinity!  [Webmaster's note:  Most links in the proceeding paragraph no longer work, so they have been removed.]