Thankfulness and Praise

More from Prof. Pless, drawing on the writings of Australian theologian John Kleinig. . . .When you thank someone, you address that person directly. When you praise someone, you tell someone else how great that person is.

When it comes to God, we are to thank and praise Him. We tell God how grateful we are to him–for His grace, His blessings, our existence, and on and on–in thanksgiving. Praise, strictly speaking, is when we tell other people how great He is, what His wonderful attributes are, how good and gracious He is.

When the Psalm says “Praise Him,” we should do so in talking about Him to others. Thus, hymns of praise are for the benefit of the singers and the hearers and their lyrics should thus have substantive content about who God is and what He has done.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bob Hunter

    What??? You mean a praise song doesn’t consist of “We praise you, we praise you Lord, we just praise you”? Shocking!!!!

  • Bob Hunter

    What??? You mean a praise song doesn’t consist of “We praise you, we praise you Lord, we just praise you”? Shocking!!!!

  • Ryan

    Colossians 3:16 covers this point as well: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

    Congregational singing is for the love of your neighbor as well as singing to God.

  • Ryan

    Colossians 3:16 covers this point as well: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

    Congregational singing is for the love of your neighbor as well as singing to God.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com W. H. Tickletext

    That singular command
    I do not understand,
    Bless what there is for being,
    Which has to be obeyed, for
    What else am I made for,
    Agreeing or disagreeing?

    – W. H. Auden

  • http://viz.tumblr.com W. H. Tickletext

    That singular command
    I do not understand,
    Bless what there is for being,
    Which has to be obeyed, for
    What else am I made for,
    Agreeing or disagreeing?

    – W. H. Auden

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Sometimes I think of good hymns as being comparable to the poems interspersed through the Sagas of the Icelanders. viking Warlords and kings would commission these poems, and they didn’t just just just praise the viking with empty phrases, but recounted his deeds in battle, showed his heroism, and so forth.
    So should a good hymn recount the deeds of Christ and his victory over the grave. No self respecting man, and Christ is a man, wants to hear his girlfriend, much less other men, serenade him.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Sometimes I think of good hymns as being comparable to the poems interspersed through the Sagas of the Icelanders. viking Warlords and kings would commission these poems, and they didn’t just just just praise the viking with empty phrases, but recounted his deeds in battle, showed his heroism, and so forth.
    So should a good hymn recount the deeds of Christ and his victory over the grave. No self respecting man, and Christ is a man, wants to hear his girlfriend, much less other men, serenade him.

  • CRB

    “So should a good hymn recount the deeds of Christ and his victory over the grave.”
    And one of the best of the best: “Awake, My Heart with Gladness” by Paul Gerhardt

  • CRB

    “So should a good hymn recount the deeds of Christ and his victory over the grave.”
    And one of the best of the best: “Awake, My Heart with Gladness” by Paul Gerhardt

  • http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/ wcwirla

    I do not agree with the categorical distinction of “thanksgiving” vs “praise.” Eucharisteo and eulogeo are functionally interchangeable terms.

    I do agree that both praise and thanksgiving have substance under their feet – namely, God’s works of creation and redemption. The simple word “Hallelujah” (“Let us praise the Lord”) is always accompanied by the recitation of God’s works, both of creation, as the Maker of heaven and earth, and redemption, as the Savior who redeems His people. Think of the classic praise hymn the Te Deum, which does precisely this.

    Revelation 7:12 gives the fullness of worship with seven ascriptions: “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

  • http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/ wcwirla

    I do not agree with the categorical distinction of “thanksgiving” vs “praise.” Eucharisteo and eulogeo are functionally interchangeable terms.

    I do agree that both praise and thanksgiving have substance under their feet – namely, God’s works of creation and redemption. The simple word “Hallelujah” (“Let us praise the Lord”) is always accompanied by the recitation of God’s works, both of creation, as the Maker of heaven and earth, and redemption, as the Savior who redeems His people. Think of the classic praise hymn the Te Deum, which does precisely this.

    Revelation 7:12 gives the fullness of worship with seven ascriptions: “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

  • FW

    “When you thank someone, you address that person directly. When you praise someone, you tell someone else how great that person is.”

    This does not seem like a proper distinction. I think I agree with wccwirla here. “think” meaning I will leave the greek to him. I can do this in english:

    you can praise me for something and you do not have to do this in front of others or to others.

    In english there is a difference I think between “to thank” and “to praise”. Thank seems to imply gratitude for receiving something from someone or even something. It implies transaction. “praise”, in contrast seems to imply a non-transactional appreciation for a quality or action of someone or something, as in “praising” the virtues of a particular model of car, or the meticulous nature/work of an employee or the beauty of a beautiful woman.

    Often there is a little of both. Conflation. Praise and thanksgiving go together. Sometimes as cause and effect: I am thankful, therefore I praise. I appreaciate in a way I can praise, therefore I am thankful.

    Content makes a difference exactly as bror points out. contentless praise is serenade. it has it´s place as well. Ask any woman.

  • FW

    “When you thank someone, you address that person directly. When you praise someone, you tell someone else how great that person is.”

    This does not seem like a proper distinction. I think I agree with wccwirla here. “think” meaning I will leave the greek to him. I can do this in english:

    you can praise me for something and you do not have to do this in front of others or to others.

    In english there is a difference I think between “to thank” and “to praise”. Thank seems to imply gratitude for receiving something from someone or even something. It implies transaction. “praise”, in contrast seems to imply a non-transactional appreciation for a quality or action of someone or something, as in “praising” the virtues of a particular model of car, or the meticulous nature/work of an employee or the beauty of a beautiful woman.

    Often there is a little of both. Conflation. Praise and thanksgiving go together. Sometimes as cause and effect: I am thankful, therefore I praise. I appreaciate in a way I can praise, therefore I am thankful.

    Content makes a difference exactly as bror points out. contentless praise is serenade. it has it´s place as well. Ask any woman.

  • FW

    #3 w.h. tickeltext

    that quote is priceless:

    contending and arguing over reality and the meaning of words do not, in fact, change anything.

    Such contentions only “change” things.

    To think otherwise is the most radical post-modernist relativism imaginable. It is by clinical definition: psychosis.

    True praise, worship and even heterosexual marriage will remain as they are no matter who wins an argument debate or political battle.

    The Truth requires no defense. It simply is.

    Jesus requires no defense. He Lives AND reigns forever.

    Therefore, and for that very reason I thank and praise His most holy name! In him is my strength and refuge.

    Know Jesus. Know. The. Truth.

  • FW

    #3 w.h. tickeltext

    that quote is priceless:

    contending and arguing over reality and the meaning of words do not, in fact, change anything.

    Such contentions only “change” things.

    To think otherwise is the most radical post-modernist relativism imaginable. It is by clinical definition: psychosis.

    True praise, worship and even heterosexual marriage will remain as they are no matter who wins an argument debate or political battle.

    The Truth requires no defense. It simply is.

    Jesus requires no defense. He Lives AND reigns forever.

    Therefore, and for that very reason I thank and praise His most holy name! In him is my strength and refuge.

    Know Jesus. Know. The. Truth.

  • FW

    Truth is not a proposition to be made true or false by argument or contention.

    Truth simply is.

    propositions are also true or false independent of argument. A proposition is part of what is true or not. This requires defense or defensive-ness only if the proposition is false.

    Argument and contention merely exist to clean dirty eyeglasses.

    Christians are blessed and priviledged to see and therefore give thanks and praise.

    Christians are free from the need to defend or be defensive because in faith we see what is true.

    This IS the peace of God that is incomprehensible to human contention or argument. Jesus IS, in his body, Peace and Truth. There is nothing that exists withhout him.

    For all of this I thank and praise him. Heck bror, I even can serenade him. It´s ok.

  • FW

    Truth is not a proposition to be made true or false by argument or contention.

    Truth simply is.

    propositions are also true or false independent of argument. A proposition is part of what is true or not. This requires defense or defensive-ness only if the proposition is false.

    Argument and contention merely exist to clean dirty eyeglasses.

    Christians are blessed and priviledged to see and therefore give thanks and praise.

    Christians are free from the need to defend or be defensive because in faith we see what is true.

    This IS the peace of God that is incomprehensible to human contention or argument. Jesus IS, in his body, Peace and Truth. There is nothing that exists withhout him.

    For all of this I thank and praise him. Heck bror, I even can serenade him. It´s ok.

  • FW

    “Argument and contention merely exist to clean dirty eyeglasses.” ….

    important to add… and also to cover untruth or attempt to make truth merely appear as untruth.

    I am a homosexual. I am a white male. I am a sinner. I am a saint.

    argument will not change any of those truths; will not change them into moral or immoral.

    Jesus is The Truth in which the truth called Frank exists and has it´s being. His Word is also therefore Truth. who i am cannot threaten This Truth, nor does Truth come to threaten what i am. i exist to be informed and moulded by Truth, as clay to Potter.

    i am content in that. i am I only in that way.

  • FW

    “Argument and contention merely exist to clean dirty eyeglasses.” ….

    important to add… and also to cover untruth or attempt to make truth merely appear as untruth.

    I am a homosexual. I am a white male. I am a sinner. I am a saint.

    argument will not change any of those truths; will not change them into moral or immoral.

    Jesus is The Truth in which the truth called Frank exists and has it´s being. His Word is also therefore Truth. who i am cannot threaten This Truth, nor does Truth come to threaten what i am. i exist to be informed and moulded by Truth, as clay to Potter.

    i am content in that. i am I only in that way.

  • FW

    For those who feel that my posts have nothing to do with the original post, I invite you to think again.

  • FW

    For those who feel that my posts have nothing to do with the original post, I invite you to think again.

  • http://www.wels.net/worship Bryan Gerlach

    One does not best define worship from the etymology of biblical words for worship, like praise. Most of these are our actions. But if we start with delivering the means of grace as the core of worship, we find a compelling reason for praise to include substantive content. Thus all praise is proclamation and all proclamation is praise, including the sermon.

    Here are quotes included in the booklet from a CD of highlights from the new WELS hymnal supplement.

    God is praised when the gospel is rightly proclaimed; and, conversely, the proclamation of the gospel is the way that God is rightly praised. There is no artificial division between songs that “proclaim” and others that “praise”: unless “praise songs” proclaim the good news of the gospel, they are not, in any Christian sense, praise songs at all.
    Carl Schalk, “Hymnody and the Proclamation of the Gospel,” in Not Unto Us: A Celebration of the Ministry of Kurt J. Eggert, p. 138. NPH 2001

    The healthiest congregational environment flourishes when the worship leader/worship songwriter partners with pastors in feeding the congregation well through the songs they sing and the sermons they hear.
    Keith Getty interview, September 2006

    In accordance with the example given by the Apostle Paul (Eph. 5:19), the singing of hymns has been understood and regarded as a form of preaching, a proclamation of the word of God.
    A sermon by Johannes Brenz (d. 1570)

    More info at: http://www.wels.net/jump/cwsupplement

  • http://www.wels.net/worship Bryan Gerlach

    One does not best define worship from the etymology of biblical words for worship, like praise. Most of these are our actions. But if we start with delivering the means of grace as the core of worship, we find a compelling reason for praise to include substantive content. Thus all praise is proclamation and all proclamation is praise, including the sermon.

    Here are quotes included in the booklet from a CD of highlights from the new WELS hymnal supplement.

    God is praised when the gospel is rightly proclaimed; and, conversely, the proclamation of the gospel is the way that God is rightly praised. There is no artificial division between songs that “proclaim” and others that “praise”: unless “praise songs” proclaim the good news of the gospel, they are not, in any Christian sense, praise songs at all.
    Carl Schalk, “Hymnody and the Proclamation of the Gospel,” in Not Unto Us: A Celebration of the Ministry of Kurt J. Eggert, p. 138. NPH 2001

    The healthiest congregational environment flourishes when the worship leader/worship songwriter partners with pastors in feeding the congregation well through the songs they sing and the sermons they hear.
    Keith Getty interview, September 2006

    In accordance with the example given by the Apostle Paul (Eph. 5:19), the singing of hymns has been understood and regarded as a form of preaching, a proclamation of the word of God.
    A sermon by Johannes Brenz (d. 1570)

    More info at: http://www.wels.net/jump/cwsupplement


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