There are few experiences as satisfying and reminding of our closeness to God than singing a well-written worship song.
Several years back, I purchased a CD that included a rendition of the hymn, “O Worship the King,” and I developed an immediate appreciation for both the beauty and imagery of the song’s lyrics.
With hymns that I particularly find moving, I will from time to time research a bit on the origin of the song, and thanks to a gift a few years ago from members of the church where I’m privileged to minister, the process of such a search isn’t too exhaustive.
It seems that a man named Charles Grant, who was director of the East India Company, was respected throughout India as one of Britain’s finest statesmen. He was also a deeply committed Christian, an evangelical in the Anglican Church, who used his position in India to encourage missionary expansion there.
In 1778, just as England was reeling from the American Revolution, Charles returned to the British Isles to become a Member of Parliament from Inverness, Scotland.
His son, Robert, six years old at the time, grew up in a world of power, politics and privilege. But he also grew up as a devout and dedicated follower of Christ. As a young man, Robert attended Magdalene College, Cambridge, then entered the legal profession. His intelligence and integrity were obvious. He became King’s Sargent in the Court of the Duchy of Lancaster and, in 1818, he entered Parliament.
One day in the early 1830s, as Robert studied Psalm 104, he compared the greatness of the King of Kings with the majesty of the British royalty. Psalm 104:1 says of God, ”O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty.” Verses 2-3 add that God covers Himself ”With light as with a garment” and “makes the clouds His chariot.” Verse 5 reminds us that God ”laid the foundations of the earth.” All of creation reflects God’s greatness, verse 24 proclaiming, ”O Lord, how manifold are Your works!” Verse 31 says, ”May the glory of the Lord endure forever.”
Robert filled his heart with these verses, and from his pen came one of the most magnificent hymns in Christendom:
O worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
In 1832, Robert was appointed Judge Advocate General. This hymn was published in 1833, and he was knighted in 1834. Soon thereafter, at age 50, Sir Robert returned to India, land of his early childhood, to be Governor of Bombay. He died there on July 9, 1838. A nearby medical college was built in his honor and named for him. But his most lasting memorial is the majestic hymn of praise, calling us to worship the King of Kings.
This week, sift through your memory banks or collection of music and find a song of worship that you appreciate and can offer up to God in praise.
”Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” (1 Chronicles 16:23:29)