From all that dwell below the skies

Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 117)

This is the entire text of Psalm 117, the Shortest Chapter in the Bible (Psalm 119 is, of course, the longest).  If you were writing the shortest chapter in the Bible, you couldn’t do better than to:

  • Start with praise, and end with praise.
  • Enjoin the entire world to praise the Lord, which the psalmist does in the first verse. Also note: “Praise the Lord” is “Hallelu Yah,” said by some to be the most “international” word in the world, being used as is in many, many languages.
  • Center that praise on the Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

Dr. Watts’s second version of Psalm 117 is the text for several hymns:

From all that dwell below the skies
Let the Creator’s praise arise;
Let the Redeemer’s name be sung
Through every land, by every tongue.
Eternal are thy mercies, Lord,
Eternal truth attends thy word;
Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore,
Till suns shall rise and set no more.

One tune is Bridgewater; here’s the first section done by the Village Harmony singers that I like very much (and here’s a link to buy a recording). The Sacred Harp version (number 276) is a little different: sung slow in Minnesota and a little faster in Cleburne, Alabama.

A second tune is Schenectady (Sacred Harp, page 192); here are the Minnesotans again.

A third tune is Eternal Praise (Sacred Harp, page 377).  I guess they like this text in Minnesota, because they sang Eternal Praise as well. This tune was written in the 1930s by O.A. Parrish.