Hymn History ~ All People that on Earth do Dwell

“All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
Him serve with fear, His praise foretell,
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

“The Lord ye know is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

“O enter then His gates with praise,
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud and bless His name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

“For why? the Lord our God is good,
His mercy is forever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall form age to age endure.”

Written by William Kethe
Composed by Louis Bourgeois
Tune: The Old Hundredth

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William Kethe ~ The Writer

Little is known about William Kethe. He is believed to be a scotsman, who pastored a Christian church. During the reign of the Roman Catholic queen, “Bloody” Mary, he was exiled to Germany,and then moved to Geneva, where he worked with scholars to translate the Geneva Bible in 1560.

He returned to England about 1561, and served as rector of the church at Childe, Oxford, until his death. It was during this time that the hymn, “All People that on Earth Do Dwell” was written. The Bible translation used for this text was “Goostly Psalmes”, Martin Luther’s translation, because the King James Bible wasn’t available until 1611.

Followers of John Calvin sang only metrical Psalms, or the Psalms set in poetic meter — he believed that metrical versions should neither add nor take away from the Psalm.

William Kethe died around 1594.

“No better songs, nor more appropriate for the congregational singing that the Psalms of David, which the Holy Spirit made and spoke through him.”
~John Calvin~

Louis Bourgeois ~ The Composer

Louis Bourgeois is the main compiler of reformed hymn tunes, including the most famous melody “The Old Hundredth”. Even though several of his tunes — particularly “The Old Hundredth” is sang throughout Christendom, not much is known of his life.

He was born around the year 1510. In 1545 he was a music teacher in Geneva, and in 1547 he was granted a citizenship in Geneva. In 1549 and 1550, he worked on a collection of Psalm tunes for John Calvin. Most of his music was monophonic to please John Calvin, who disapproved of harmony and counterpoint in church music, although he did publish several pieces in harmony and polyphonic for use at home and personal worship.

Louis Bourgeois was sent to prison December 3, 1551, for changing tunes to well known Psalms without license. he was released a few days later because John Calvin intervened. The Geneva town council ordered the opposing music burnt because it was confusing to have different tunes with the same words. He left Geneva shortly after this and never returned.

He settled in Lyon. In 1560 he moved to Paris, France, where his daughter was baptized as a catholic. No records of Louis Bourgeois’ life can be found after 1560, although it is commonly believed he died in 1561.

 

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