The Rev. Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator

Praise my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
ever more his praises sing.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King!

–Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847

Hymns have been my companions all my life. They are in my blood, as my great-uncle, Francis Bland Tucker, was the author of numerous hymns, and the only member of the 1940 Hymnal commission to also serve on the 1982 Hymnal commission. As a cradle Episcopalian, I grew up singing lots of hymns. They are one of the primary ways that my soul praises the King of heaven.

Hymns are not just for church. I was a rower, usually the stroke of a boat (the person who everyone else follows). I would sing hymns in my head to keep the rhythm of the rowing steady: “Praise my soul the King of heaven”, “For all the saints”, “Come labor on.” I sing Taizé chants to myself when I run every morning. When I was giving birth, I set my breathing patterns to the same Taizé chants. I am probably the only woman in the world who has ever been proposed to with new words sung to the tune of “Let all mortal flesh keep silence”!

Hymns shape our worship and our lives, and the next segment of our blog will feature reflections on hymns and pilgrimage.

I am grateful to church musicians who dedicate themselves to the ministry of choosing hymns and music that illuminate the Scripture readings, enrich our praise, and inspire us to lift our voices along with our hearts to God who guides us on our pilgrimage.


The image pictured is of Westminster Abbey, as “Praise my soul, the king of heaven” was sung there at the wedding of the future Queen Elizabeth II.
Image Copyright: gajic / 123RF Stock Photo