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Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., explains what Neanderthal man has to do with a beloved hymn.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psalm 103:1)
Bitter irony. Those words come to my mind when I think of this hymn. Loosely based on Psalm 103 and Psalm 150, the song is a wonderful reminder to praise God for the tremendous blessings He gives us. So where’s the irony?
The hymn was written by a German poet named Joachim Neander. After teaching for a short time, Neander became somewhat of a hermit, and he spent much of his time in a cave near a river, which became known as the Neander River after his death. The river’s valley was called the Neander Valley. The German word for valley or dale is Tal (formerly Thal).
In the mid-nineteenth century, skeletal remains were found in a quarry in the Neander Valley. These bones have become famous and are named for the place where they were found, the Neanderthal. Although originally hailed by many evolutionary scientists as a missing link between humans and ape-like ancestors, Neanderthal man was fully human.
Ironically, instead of being remembered as the author of a beloved hymn about the “the King of creation,” Neander’s name will continue to be linked with humanistic beliefs about the origin of man that deny the work of the Creator.
Perhaps now when you hear about Neanderthal man, you will remember to praise “the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation” for His marvelous provision and thank Him for faithful servants like Joachim Neander who penned these inspiring words.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who with marvelous wisdom hath made thee,
Decked thee with health, and with loving hand guided and stayed thee;
How oft in grief hath not He brought thee relief,
Spreading His wings for to shade thee!
Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen sound from His people again:
Gladly for aye we adore Him!
Today’s big idea: men may attempt to steal God’s glory, but ultimately every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
What to pray: praise God for giving you life and breath.