By Bryn Rademaker
We honor & adore you, our great and mighty Lord!
Easter is nearly upon us, my dear friends! The season of joy, rejuvenation, & resurrection—all due to our God who is beyond all praising.
As our Easter season approaches and we thirst for this beautiful time, I wanted to share with y’all my favorite hymn of all time. This song is dear to my own heart for many reasons, three of which are as follows: Jupiter, FOCUS, and weddings!
I know, I know… super random and seemingly nothing to do with this month’s hymn, “Oh God Beyond All Praising.” Each of these reasons holds a beautiful place in my heart, however, and have deepened my affection for this beloved tune. I’ll begin with Jupiter.
Being born into a musician’s family, I was bound to wind up listening to, if not loving, classical music. My siblings and I danced to it as young and energetic children, we found it blasting around the house on rainy cleaning days, and all of us ended up practicing/performing it on various instruments including our voices — more often than not, one would find the Rademaker household sharing musical masterpieces with one another.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the day my mom shared with me a composer named Holst, my life was forever changed (not to be dramatic). After listening to his suite The Planets, I was hooked! Each tune was named after one of the planets, “Jupiter” being my absolute favorite number. I listened to it constantly while studying, playing the recording for my music and non-music nerd friends, and even performing it in my high school wind ensemble. I recall being especially drawn to a slower, more methodical part of the piece in which our month’s tune “Oh God Beyond All Praising” is inspired by, but it wasn’t until years after first being introduced to “Jupiter” that I made the connection…
Attending Winona State University for college was one of the greatest experiences of my life, leading me to FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students). Spread across many college campuses around the US and Europe, FOCUS’s main mission is to bring the gospel of Christ to university students through trained missionaries that walk with them in their journey of faith. Not only do they grow in authentic friendship with students and study Scripture and Catholic living with them, but students are also invited to attend FOCUS conferences once a year over their New Year’s break. I had the deep privilege of going to four FOCUS conferences, one per year of my college experience. Held in different cities each time, I found myself becoming inspired and equipped to deepen my Catholic faith and to share it with friends, family, and strangers. Even though each FOCUS conference had a unique impact in my life through its speakers and their shared words of encouragement/knowledge, opportunities to encounter Christ in the Sacraments, and sharing these with my friends, my very first year at one of these conferences stands out to me the most.
After five incredible days, our conference concluded with one of the most-attended Masses I had ever been to. In the huge congregation of 10,000+ people joining in celebrating the Holy Eucharist, my Winona State group found our seats near the very front of the massive room. Finally, after the miracle of the Eucharist we had just received and to end our week of inspired faith, we all joined in singing “Oh God Beyond All Praising” as our closing song.
Tears filled my eyes as I heard the beautiful melody of “Jupiter” fill the San Antonio Convention Center. I couldn’t believe it — my favorite classical piece was a Christian hymn! As I listened to the lyrics and sang along with great joy, it was then that I additionally declared it my favorite hymn.
Of course, as per usual in our lives, once I heard “Oh God Beyond All Praising” this first time, it just happened to pop up everywhere I went, including weekend Masses and other Christian celebrations. Little did I know that this hymn is a classic processional, even at wedding ceremonies!
Out of the many weddings I attended throughout college and beyond, this piece was used as the wedding processional for a handful of my friends as they joyfully made their way hand-in-hand down the aisle as newlyweds. “This HAS to be the processional at my own wedding!” I remember thinking many times even before meeting my beloved.
As some of you may know, I have the great blessing and honor of marrying a great man only one week following Easter! *If reading this before we wed, please keep Matt and me in your prayers as we continue to prepare for this blessed Sacrament! If beyond Divine Mercy Sunday, we ask for prayers throughout our marriage.*
When it came down to selecting music for our wedding ceremony, I quickly pleaded for “Oh God Beyond All Praising” to be our closing hymn, and by God’s blessing we both agreed it was perfect to process out to.
Near and dear to the hearts of many, this song inspires the praise and glory of God through all circumstances, no matter how hard or wonderful. One phrase I continue to turn to in my life is this:
And whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill
We’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still
To marvel in your beauty and glory in your ways
To make a joyful duty, our sacrifice of praise
I encourage you to listen closely to each verse and pay due attention to its beauty and truth. God bless you, my friends, and please enjoy and share this marvelous tune!
~”Oh God Beyond All Praising” is originally composed by Michael Perry in 1982 as he created the lyrics that fit into Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter” piece. The link I posted above comes from the album Origin by the musically compiled group of FOCUS musicians, Sarah Kroger being the lead singer. All FOCUS missionaries, these musicians spent many hours of composition and rehearsal to put together their album Origin. Their main inspiration was spreading the Gospel not only through Bible studies and relationships with others but also through the art of music.
For more information on FOCUS’ music project and Origin, visit this website link: https://focusoncampus.org/beauty/projects