Let all creation’s wonders and countless angel hordes unite in ceaseless worship to praise the Lord of lords: he spoke, and formed the cosmos; he set the stars in place; his voice defines the contours of interstellar space– let sun and moon extol him and every planet sing; across the constellations let alleluias ring.
2 From far beneath the oceans let joyful songs arise, while hail and wind and lightning toss psalms across the skies. You beasts of farm and jungle, let nature’s hymn be heard; tell out your maker’s greatness, each insect, every bird; you peoples and you rulers, acknowledge him as King– from every generation let alleluias ring.
3 So let us lift our voices for all that we are worth to God whose timeless splendour surpasses heaven and earth: in love he chose and called us, a people of his own, and gave to us a Saviour to make his mercy known. His name alone we honour; our lifelong praise we bring; from deep within our spirits let alleluias ring!
The Psalter ends on a firm and lively upbeat. Its final five psalms (146-150) urge us to ‘Praise the Lord.’ Each of the five begins with this call, and ends with it too. Within that strong and simple frame they tell of God’s power and goodness in creation, and of God’s love as known in Israel. To respond in praise is duty and delight. So Psalm 148 starts in heaven, leads us on a grand tour of the created universe, and finishes at home in the human heart, rejoicing in the saving mercies of a mighty God.
The Psalmist takes the role of a musical conductor, calling all the instruments in turn to offer their distinctive notes of praise. So in the version above the first stanza summons the heights and hosts of heaven, skies, sun and starlight, to sing to the Lord. Then the second stanza reaches across the earth, beckoning whale and winter, tide and tiger, kingfisher and centipede to join the chorus.
Finally, to complete this harmony, as descant to all the majesty and variety of creation, let human voices rise in faith and gratitude. Tribe and tongue, old and young, praise the Lord. Above all, let the people who know God’s saving love offer the worship of song and heart. So as the second stanza of this hymn moves into the third, we are called into the choir ourselves, to praise a God of power and grandeur, whom we have come to know as a God of presence and grace.
Let the whole world honour its maker – by fulfilling its purpose and flourishing to God’s glory. As we in worship today add our joyful and intentional praise, to the God we know in creation and in Jesus.
God of creation, as earth and sky give you glory, so may we praise you, by respecting and nurturing the works of your hand, by speaking your name with reverence and joy, and by living as people of grace. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The Rev’d John Proctor, retired minister, member of Downing Place URC, Cambridge