What You Need To Know About The Hymn “O Worship The King”

What You Need To Know About The Hymn "O Worship the King"

O Worship The King Hymn.

Music is a powerful tool to speak directly to the human soul and lift his spirit high. In its essence, music can shift our spirit into a deeper lever of worshiping the most-high God. In fact, Hymn is a special song that its attributes are sincerely attached to that effect. Most hymns expressed the great truths of faith that connect to our soul while we are singing. Specifically, O worship the king hymn is one of those hymns that will lift up your heart if you sing it in truth.

O worship the King is the hymn popularly known as a model hymn for worship. It was written by Sir Robert Grant and published in 1833. It is one of the very best hymns in expressive lyrics and also exceptional in the Almighty God exaltation. The hymn “O Worship the King” makes use of the 19th-century monarchy splendor as a metaphor for the greatness of the Lord. Attributes of an earthly monarch are magnified to communicate the characteristics of the King of kings, one who by nature cannot be described.

O Worship The King Hymn Writer

What You Need To Know About The Hymn "O Worship the King"
Sir Robert Grant

The hymn O worship the King was written by a well-engaged man called Sir Robert Grant. Sir Robert Grant was born in India at Malda, Bengal in 1779, by Scotch parents. He was the second son of a British politician influential in Indian called Charles Grant. Mr. Charles Grant was the director of East India Company that later became the Chairman of the Court of Directors of the Company. When Sir Robert Grant was six years old, his family left India for London and fixed their stay there.

Notwithstanding, Grant’s Scottish roots, the family was a member of an Anglican communion and not Presbyterian. Also, Grant’s family were also part of a group of Church of England social reformers called the Clapham Sect. The group is an evangelical off-shoot of the Church who committed to social issues. For instance, the abolishment of slavery and freedom of slaves among other issues.

Sir Robert Grant together with his elder brother that share a name with their father attended Magdalene College in Cambridge. They enter the school in 1795 and in 1799 he obtained the Craven Scholarship he was awarded the Craven Scholarship at the school. And in the year 1801, Robert Grant finished as the third wrangler and also as the second Chancellor’s medalist. He was later called to the bar in 1807 and since then get deeper into the legal practice. Besides, he held several political positions and later appointed as the Governor of Bombay. The “O worship the Lord” hymn writer was in that position until his death.

A year after he was called to the bar, Robert Grant was elected to serve in the Elgin Burghs Parliament. He held that position for many more years and he was intensely involved with social issues. Through some persistent efforts, Robert Grant advocated for the emancipation of Jews in England. Eventually, he carried a bill twice for the removal of the civil restriction placed on the Jews. His bill was rejected but later in 1858 after his death, his desire for England’s Jews’ freedom came to pass.

Grant was not only a politician but also a public servant of England. Besides, He was as well a devout Evangelical Christian who make use of every opportunity at his disposal to share the Good News of God. Furthermore, Robert Grant provided financial support to the missionaries, and Indian people without a doubt loved him. In fact, Grant Medical College was established as well as Grant Road to honour his name.

After a life well spent, both in civil service and mission work, Robert Grant died after a short and unexpected illness on the 9th of July 1838 at Dapodi. Before his demise, Robert Grant has several sacred poems to his name. These poems were revised by his brother who published them after Robert’s death. These sacred poems contain some hymns and “O Worship the King” is one of them. In particular, “O Worship the King” is considered his best-known hymn.

Story Behind The Hymn

The hymn O worship the king was written by a very busy office holder in England. In fact, the hymn is one of the best worship hymns of all time. Grants Roberts got an inspiration to write the hymn during his personal study. This happened in the early 1830s while he was reading William Kethe’s paraphrase of Psalm 104 in Anglo-Genevan Psalter of 1561.

Actually, the psalm speaks about God that clothed with honor and majesty (verse 1) and also makes the clouds His chariot (verse 3). Instantly, he was touched and began to lists the comparisons of the King of Kings to British Royalty and penned down the hymn “O Worship the King”. The Hymn was considered as one of the greatest glorious written in the English language.

Absolutely, the hymn was inspired by Psalm but the author mixed biblical images with the earthly monarch to described God. He used epithets like Shield, Defender, Redeemer, Ancients of days to describe the majesty of the Lord. Also, he makes use of physical symbolism like His chariot of wrath to annotate His mightiness. Generally, the words of this hymn are majestic and they are indeed affirming God’s glorious essence.

The hymn “O Worship the Lord” first published in six stanzas of four lines in Christian Psalmody by Edward Bickersteth printed in 1833. Thereafter, the hymn was printed in Psalms and Hymns for Public, Private, and Social Worship by H.V. Elliott in 1835. In this particular publication, the hymn was in three stanzas of eight lines. Also, some editorial work was done on the hymn. Moreover, the hymn was published in Robert Grant’s posthumous edition of his poem called Sacred Poems in 1839. The hymn in Sacred Poems edition was presented with a more correct and original interpretation compare to earlier publications.  

Tunes For The Hymn

The meter of the hymn “O Worship the King” is in 10:10:11:11 and the popular tune use to sing the text is LYONS. The tune was originally composed by Joseph Martin Kraus. Joseph Martin Kraus is a classical era composer of German origin. The LYON tune was adapted by Michael Haydn (1737-1806) from the Kraus’ sonata. This tune is great for the text with its steady rise and reasonable progressions. Each of the phrases of the tune ascent as the text exclaimed the supreme nature of God.

Another tune that is popular with the text of the hymn “O Worship the King” is called HANOVER. The tune composition is widely attributed to William Croft. William Croft is an organist and composer of English origin and he studied music at Chapel Royal under the tutelage of John Blow. Croft later succeeded John Blow to become an organist of Westminster Abbey. HANOVER is also an excellent tune to sing the text of the hymn. The HANOVER tune is spirited and has beautiful harmony. Although the Hanover tune is an old tune and actually follow some pattern of old tunes.

In particular, the Hanover was first seen in Supplement to the New Version of Psalms published in 1708 by Dr. Nicholas Brady and Nahum Tate. The author of the hymn then was anonymous before the composer was ascribed to William Croft. Afterward, Alan Gray wrote the descant to the tune. Alan Gray was also an English organist and composer. He was the Director of Music for thirty years plus at Trinity College in Cambridge where he studied music as an undergraduate.

The Hymn Full Text:

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 splendor and girded with praise.

2. O tell of his might and 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. Your 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 distills in the dew and the rain.

4. Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,

    in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.

    Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,

    our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

5. O measureless Might, unchangeable Love,

    whom angels delight to worship above!

    Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze,

    in true adoration shall sing to your praise!


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