O Worship the King

“O Worship the King” is a free paraphrase of Psalm 104 (largely verses 1-13 and 24-33) by Sir Robert Grant (1779-1838), an Anglo-Indian lawyer who served as a member of Parliament as well as Governor of Bombay. Influenced by William Kethe’s 1561 paraphrase of the same psalm, Grant’s “O Worship the King” first appeared in Edward Bickersteth’s Christian Psalmody (1833) and later appeared in a posthumous volume of Grant’s work, Sacred Poems (1839), edited by his brother Charles. (For a comparison of the psalm to both Kethe’s and Grant’s paraphrases, follow this link.)

Hymnologist Eric Routley (1917-1982) named “O Worship the King” as one of his favorite hymns, declaring that “For sheer literary grace and beauty this may be one of the six finest hymns in the language. We all love it for its combination of effortless energy, high-spirited innocence, and the occasional touch of superb dignity.” Hymnologist J.R. Watson (1934-) notes that “The nature imagery of Psalm 104 is beautifully captured in the last four lines of verse 2 and the gentle imagery of verse 4, and superbly integrated into a wider vision of divine mercy and human adoration.”

Grant’s text includes six verses; many hymnals abbreviate it, leaving off the concluding one. This accompaniment, employing the tune HANOVER by William Croft (1678-1727), includes music for verses 1-5, and may be furthered abbreviated to four, if desired, by eliminating the repeat on verses 1-2.

Following an introduction that contrasts short melodic fragments with answering flourishes, the arrangement proceeds as follows:

  • Verses 1-2: organ accompaniment
  • Verse 3: brass accompaniment
  • Verse 4: organ accompaniment with trumpet countermelody
  • Interlude — organ and brass
  • Verse 5: organ and brass accompaniment with alternate harmonization
  • Coda — all

The timpani part may be excluded if no timpani are available.

Full score, parts for organ, Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba, timpani, and reproducible bulletin insert for voices (8.5×11″ PDF) — $25