Hymns as Poetry: William Kethe

Such is the title of one of my latest library book sale acquisitions. I figured that 10 cents wasn’t really a risk – and was actually pleasantly surprised by my find. I found this gem in the Goshen Public Library, Goshen, Indiana on Thursday, April 14, following a chiropractor appointment at the Goshen Chiropractic Center. I flipped through it later that evening and enjoyed reading hymn selections from such more familiar creators in hymnody as Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley. The book is set up with recording hymns from as early as 1560 from the Roman Catholic and Church of England. It continues through the centuries ending with the British and American Revivals through 1953.

The very first hymn is written in old English and comes from Psalm 100. It is written by William Kethe in the late 1500’s. The following bio comes from nethymnal.org:

Died: June 6, 1594, Dor­set­shire, Eng­land.

Kethe was a Scotch cler­gy­man who spent a great deal of time in ex­ile for his faith. He lived in both Frank­furt, Ger­ma­ny, and Ge­ne­va, Switz­er­land, and helped trans­late the Ge­ne­va Bi­ble in 1560. Two do­zen of his hymns ap­peared in the Anglo-Ge­ne­van Psalt­er of 1561. He re­turned to Eng­land and served as vi­car at Childe Ok­e­ford, Dor­set­shire (1561-1593), and as a mil­i­tary chap­lain under the Earl of War­wick at Havre.

I will reproduce the stanzas below in contemporary English as the old English makes it difficult to read:

PSALM C: (All People That on Earth do Dwell)

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

You can listen to this hymn put to music at nethymnal.org by clicking here.

Chance to Interact: What hymns do you favor to aid you in personal or corporate worship?


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