We all know the feeling of waking up on the “wrong side of the bed.” Sometimes we wake up irritable and sometimes we wake up fearful. The first thought to greet us in the morning may be an unresolved spat with our spouse or child or co-worker, or it may be a worry left over from the day before. These times call for an “attitude adjustment,” and William Kethe’s hymn “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” can be a help to us in doing that.
All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
Him serve with fear, his praise forthtell, come ye before him and rejoice.
The Westminster Catechism instructs us that our primary reason for existence is “. . . to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” George Muller, the great man of faith in 19th-century England, said that the first and most important duty of his day was to get his heart happy in God. So it is for us. As we choose to focus our minds on our God who rules the universe and our circumstances, the Holy Spirit within will give us peace in our irritations and fears.
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.
The Lord is God indeed. “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides me” (Isaiah 45:5 NKJV). His strength and power and wisdom are unlimited. And we are His! He made us. I love the phrase “we are his folk.” We’re family. We belong. He has promised to provide every need we have. Reminding ourselves of these truths will help us in times of stress or anxiety.
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.
With renewed minds, we can then give ourselves to praise – to joy – to a heart and mind that are in a condition to do what we were created to do – “. . . to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Our focus is turned – our attitude is “adjusted” – from a focus on our angst to a mindset of adoration.
For why? The Lord our God is good, his mercy is forever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood and shall from age to age endure.
The hymn is sung to the tune “Old 100th” and Kethe alludes to Psalm 100 throughout this hymn. The closing stanza almost quotes Psalm 100:5 verbatim: “For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (NKJV).
The next time your mind is troubled with frustrations or worries – whether first thing in the morning or any time during the day – sing a stanza or two of “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” and refocus your thoughts on the sovereignty and power of your God over all things, and his goodness and love toward you in all things.