Several years ago, I was writing songs for an upcoming project with my good friend Chris Collins (with whom I wrote "Grace Like Rain”). Looking for inspiration, we were flipping through some old hymnals when Chris said, “I’ve never heard this song but I love this title.” I looked down and saw “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.”
I had recently been intrigued for by the idea of instructing ourselves—of commanding our own souls--to obey. The most familiar passage on this is Psalm 103:1: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” David tells his own soul to bless the Lord. It’s a good reminder that we have to intentionally command our souls to give God the glory he is due.
The great preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?. . . . The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’– what business have you to be disquieted?’
You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’– instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.
Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.’”
–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965/2002), 20-1.
The lyrics to “Praise My Soul, The King of Heaven” were penned by Henry Francis Lyte, a 19th-Century English medical student who became a pastor and prolific poet. More than 100 of his poems were adapted as hymns and were especially popular in America in the mid-19th Century. Now, more than a century and a half later, Chris and I used his lyrics as the verses to “Gloria.” We gave the traditional melody a more contemporary setting and added a chorus. All with the singular goal of commanding our souls to bless our Creator and Redeemer.
Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven!
Todd Agnew is a nationally respected songwriter, worship leader, speaker and Ardent Records recording artist. He and his family currently live in Dallas, TX where he is attending Dallas Theological Seminary. He is known for such songs as Grace Like Rain, This Fragile Breath, My Jesus, and Our Great God (w/Rebecca St. James). Find out more at toddagnew.com.