This hymn, with its stately but celebratory tune is, one of the sure-fire favourites of the English hymn repertoire. The words are from Henry Francis Lyte’s collection of metrical versions titled The Spirit of the Psalms, published in 1834. It is a quite free paraphrase of Psalm 103, but captures its sense of the greatness of the Creator God who yet shows his love and care for all his creatures. The tune first appeared in 1869 and is by Sir John Goss who was organist of St Paul’s Cathedral from 1838 until 1872. He wrote much church music, very little of which survives in use. This tune is what he is best remembered for. Many tunes would be criticized for starting with the same note repeated four times, but the movement of the harmony beneath is preparing us for the leap onto the important word in the first line in each of the verses. The descending Alleluias (‘Praise him’, in Lyte’s original version) have the effect of an abundant pouring-out of praise.
from notes by Alan Luff © 2001