Sing to the LORD, Sing His Praise


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Performance Notes:

Text Information:

A call to all the nations to join Israel in the worship of the LORD.

Scripture References:
st. 1 = vv. 1-2
st. 2 = vv. 3-4
st. 3 = vv. 5-6
st. 4 = vv. 7-9
st. 5 = v. 10
st. 6 = vv.11-13

The Levites were to sing Psalm 96 in the liturgy of a high festival such as the Feast of Tabernacles (Ps. 96 appears also in 1 Chron. 16:23-33). Standing among the Israelite congregation at the temple, the Levitical choir (or one of its leaders) would call all the nations to join Israel in worshiping the LORD (st. 1, 4). The psalm also calls for proclaiming the wondrous works of the LORD (st. 2), and it contrasts the glory of the God of Israel with the so-called gods of the nations (st. 3). The LORD God created heaven and earth and rules over all nations in righteousness (st. 5). In such calls and proclamations Israel began, in principle, the evangelization of the world (st. 2, 5-6). The cosmic scope of this psalm is very appropriate to the Christian task in the whole world. The versification (altered) is from the 1912 Psalter.

Liturgical Use:
Traditional for Advent and Christmas; mission emphasis; beginning of worship.

Tune Information:

Lowell Mason (b. Medfield, MA, 1792; d. Orange, NJ, 1872) composed WESLEY for Thomas Hastings's "Hail to the Brightness of Zion's Glad Morning," and the two were published together in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1833). The tune name honors the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. WESLEY consists of four lines–the first and third beginning identically, and the fourth providing a suitable climax to the melody. Sing this jubilant tune with lots of energy.

As a child Mason learned to play every musical instrument available to him. He bought music books and attended a singing school when he was thirteen, and soon began teaching singing schools and directing a church choir. In 1812 he moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he helped to establish the firm Stebbins and Mason, which sold musical instruments in addition to dry goods. Mason also adapted, composed, and harmonized tunes for The Boston Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Church Music (1821). This collection was widely used and resulted in public demand for Mason to lead the music at singing schools, concerts, and Sunday school conventions.

He moved to Boston in 1827 to become the music director in three churches; later he became the choir director of the Bowdoin Street Church. In 1833 Mason helped to found the Boston Academy of Music, which was instrumental in introducing music education to the Boston public schools in 1838. An advocate of Pestalozzi's educational principles (an inductive teaching method), Mason frequently lectured in England and the United States. A major force in musical education in the United States and in the promotion of European models of church music (as opposed to the southern folk-hymn tradition), Mason also encouraged the change from exclusive psalm singing to the singing of hymns in the churches.

In association with Thomas Hastings, George Webb, and others, Mason compiled some eighty hymnals and collections, including The Juvenile Psalmist (1829), Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1832), and, most importantly, Carmina Sacra (1841, revised 1852). Mason composed over eleven hundred original hymn tunes and arranged another five hundred, mainly from European sources. He derived most of his tune names from the Old Testament.

Psalm 96
Song Number: 
Projection and Reprint Information: 

Words and Music: The Words and Music are in the Public Domain; you do not need permission to project or reprint the Words and Music

Public Domain