This poem, titled ‘A psalm of thanksgiving’, is intended as a hymn for singing in worship together, a delight currently denied to many of us. It calls not just for singing, but singing with joy and gladness; for “we are God’s people, and the flock of God’s pasture”. (3)
And it invites everyone to join in: ‘All people that on earth do dwell’, as the Old Hundredth begins. As French composer and scholar Lucien Deiss (1921-2007) has written in Praying the psalms: a Christian approach (1996):
The psalms are prayers for all of humanity.
Earlier composers found the short joyful song too much to resist. Many settings are listed on the web. Many are entitled ‘Jubilate Deo’ quoting the first verse but many others are in English, French, German and other languages. For more on the classical compositions, see the main page on Psalm 100.
That old favourite ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’ is loosely based on this psalm, and is certainly one of those hymns best sung in joyful assembly. Our hymn book Together in Song lists no less than nine songs based on or referring to Psalm 100, including that one and ‘All people that on earth do dwell’ mentioned above. This latter is usually sung to an old tune from the Genevan Psalter, now known as the Old 100th. (TiS 59)
A similar variety of multicultural songs is presented in Psalms for All Seasons. Members at South Woden, old hands at mentally translating dated and non-inclusive language such as we find here, will hear one of those attractive songs, PFAS 100H by none other than Lucien Deiss, with the refrain:
All the earth proclaim the Lord; sing your praise to God.