1. O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love–
Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendour, and girded with praise.
2. O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, Whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.
3. The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.
4. Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light:
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.
5. Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail:
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end!
Our maker, defender, redeemer, and friend!
6. O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to hymn Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise!
Sir Robert Grant (1779-1838)
Sir Robert Grant, the author of O Worship the King, was born of Scottish parents in Bengal, India, and worked as a lawyer, politician, director of the East India Company and governor of Bombay. He eventually died in Dalpoorie, India in 1838. That has not much to do with the hymn but I thought it was interesting.
The hymn is a reworking and expansion of Psalm 104 which itself is a hymn of praise to our great God. As we sing we call people to join us in worshipping “the King all glorious above.” This God is worthy of all our praise and as we sing we declare the reasons why God is worthy!
He is worthy because he is the King of creation. He rules over creation in such magnificence that one can see the Lord in verse 2 walking around as the owner of the place. He clothes himself with the light, and lounges under the canopy or roof of space. God cruises around the sky in his chariots of thunderclouds and goes for a stroll on the wings of the wind.
God is king over creation because he is the creator. He founded this world of old in verse 3 and did so by the sure foundation of his divine will and decree. He created this world with effortless ease, throwing the oceans – the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Southern Ocean and all the others – around the globe like we would throw a blanket over a bed.
But this great king didn’t just create everything and then leave it alone. No! He provides for the creation he rules over with bountiful care. God is a good king, sending rain in its season, causing the sun to rise on the just and the unjust. Every cool breeze, every stunning sunrise, every drizzle, every annoying downpour, every piece of fruit that appears on the trees – made by God’s abundant care from the water and air and sunshine that God sends.
But our king doesn’t stop there! As we sing of his greatness, it just keeps getting better because now we come to the fact that God tends specifically to people. As God’s people we sing verse 4 where we declare God’s tender mercies and utter trustworthiness as not just our maker, but our redeemer and defender. The one who bought us from our sin and who defends us from all evil. And even that is not enough. God is not the sort of king who just cares for his people, saves his people and defends his people but keeps himself an arms length away. No! This King is also our friend!
So it is right that we worship the King. Even though our songs are much weaker than the angels’ praises, still we will sing. We will sing of the deep and indescribable glory of our King, the Lord God Almighty.
– Tom Eglinton