I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath

I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath;
and when my voice is lost in death,
praise shall employ my nobler powers.
My days of praise shall ne’er be past
while life and thought and being last,
or immortality endures.

How happy they whose hopes rely
on Israel’s God, who made the sky
and earth and seas with all their train;
whose truth forever stands secure,
who saves the oppressed and feeds the poor,
and none shall find God’s promise vain.

The Lord pours eyesight on the blind;
the Lord supports the fainting mind
and sends the laboring conscience peace.
God helps the stranger in distress,
the widowed and the parentless,
and grants the prisoner sweet release.

I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath;
and when my voice is lost in death,
praise shall employ my nobler powers.
My days of praise shall ne’er be past
while life and thought and being last,
or immortality endures.

(UMH #60)

Written by Isaac Watts in 1719, this hymn is a paraphrase of Psalm 146: “Praise ye the LORD… While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.” It was among John Wesley’s favorite hymns. The day before he passed away from consumption, Wesley was very ill in bed, but to the surprise of his companions, he began to sing this hymn with a strong and pure voice. The following day, he tried to sing it again but could not make it past the first line: “I’ll praise my Maker, I’ll praise my Maker…” He died soon afterwards, with this hymn’s music on his lips and its words in his heart.

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