In the past few years, I have researched and written over 200 hymn stories and commentaries. And I have been surprised to learn that a fair number of the adult hymns we sing today, were originally written for children.
This hymn is one of them. It was written in 1843 and was originally titled, “Come, Children, Join To Sing.” The author, Pastor Christian Henry Bateman, published it along with several of his other children’s hymns, in a songbook called, Sacred Melodies for Children.
To be fair, the hymn didn’t originate with Bateman; it was a reworking of an 1836 hymn with the same music and meter, and similar lyrics written by William Hickson.
The hymn was very popular in Scotland and sold over 6 million copies. When Bateman discovered that adults also enjoyed singing it, he changed the word, Children, to Christians, to make it more universally functional.
The song is an invitation to sing praises to God; an act that is referenced about 60 times in the book of Psalms. God’s people are called to: “Sing praises, sing praises to God! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding” (Ps. 47:6-7).
In the new testament, the Apostle, Paul, wrote to the Church instructing them to “Sing and make music in your heart for the Lord, always giving thanks.” (Eph.5:19-20)
The word, “Alleluia” (or Hallelujah) means “praise the Lord.” The word, “amen,” means assuredly or truly. Those words, coupled together, are repeated at the end of each phrase in this song, to remind and instruct the children (and all of us) to “Praise the Lord in Truth.”
Ralph M. Petersen and his wife, Kathy, are the owners of the OLDE TOWNE EMPORIUM at 212 E. Main St. in Rogersville, Tennessee. Your comments are welcome. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (951) 321 9235.