This hymn was written by Joachim Neander, born in 1650. The name Neander is the Greek form of the German family name Neumann, both of which mean “new man.” Joachim’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather, even his great-great-grandfather were called Joachim and they all were preachers of the gospel. Impressive that may be, still as a student, Joachim was wild and rebellious. At age 20 he joined a group of students who descended on St Martin’s Church in Bremen to ridicule and mock the worshippers. However the sermon preached that day arrested him and led to his conversion, making him truly a new man! God, having a good sense of humour, sent him back to the same church as assistant minister a few years later.
Joachim often took long walks near his home in Hochdal, Germany. They were worship and prayer walks. He frequently composed hymns as he strolled, singing them to the Lord. He is regarded as the first Calvinist hymn writer! When he was 30 -the year he died- he wrote this hymn while battling tuberculosis:
Praise Ye the Lord, th Almighty, the King of Creation,
O my soul praise Him, for He is Your health and Salvation.
One of Joachim’s favourite walking spots was a beautiful valley a few miles from Dusseldorf. The Dussel river cut through it, and Joachim Neander was so much associtated with the place that eventually it was named after him: Neander Valley. The Old German word for “valley’ is “thal”, so in German it is called Neanderthal.
In 1856, as miners were digging for limestone in the valley, discovered a caves with human bones in them. The bones were examined by a local science teacher who speculated that they might originate form the time of the Flood.
When William King, and Irish professor of anatomy saw the bones, he claimed they were the proof of evolution’s famous”missing link”. Some more Neanderthal fossils were found and for many years they were used to ‘prove’ Darwin’s theory of evolution.
However Joachim Neander’s life is the proof that someone will not develop into a ‘new human’ by evolution, but becomes a new creation by grace! I am grateful to the Lord that by His grace I also am a Neander (new man).
“if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17; NIVUK)
So just “ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with His love He befriend you!”