Old Hundred

Tune, 1562; psalm from the Bay Psalm Book, 1640

Does this song sound familiar to you at all? Where have you heard its tune before? What do the words remind you of? Many churches use this tune today for the Doxology. The words are adapted from Psalm 100 in the Bible, hence the title of the tune.

What are the advantages of using familiar tunes that can be applied to more than one set of words? Why would this be appealing to early settlers in America? Lack of professional musicians and people who could read music. What are the disadvantages of recycling tunes? People get bored.

Compare the text of this song with the standard translation of Psalm 100, which was its source. How are they similar? What changes were made when the Psalm was made into a song? Why were these changes made? Poetic meter and rhyme make it more singable.

One a scale of 1 to 5 (1=not well; 5= very well), how well do you think the song reflects the meaning of the Psalm? Where does it “hit”? Where does it “miss”?

Compare this song of praise from the English tradition to “Alabado,” which is from the Spanish tradition. How are they the same? How are they different? If you found these songs without any identifying information, which song would you guess is from a Protestant tradition and which is Catholic? What are the clues?

"All People That On Earth Do Dwell" performed by the McCarthy Singers, Charles Smart, U.S.A.F. Protestant Chapel Choir, West Ruislapm, England & Kingsway Symphony Orchestra on Essential Hymns, Decca Music Group Ltd., © 2006. Available on iTunes and on Spotify.


A comparison of the original Psalm 100, which was closely associated with this tune and thus provided the tune's name, with an early text reveals that this rendition is a paraphrase.

View the music and lyrics for "Old Hundred."

This psalm, often referred to as “A Psalme of Prayse,” is taken from the Bay Psalm Book of 1640. The tune is originally from 1562. (See the introduction to this unit for a more complete discussion of psalmody in the Puritan tradition.)

Published in Cambridge by Richard Mather, John Eliot, and Thomas Weld, the Bay Psalm Book was the first book published in America. They expressed their intention to make a literal rendering of the Psalms at the expense of elegance.

Later versions of this psalm sung the same tune (used by some churches as the Doxology) may be more familiar:

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, his praise forth tell,
Come ye before him and rejoice.

O enter then his gates with praise
Approach with joy his courts unto
Praise laud and bless his name all ways
For it is seemly for to do.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Title page of the Bay Psalm Book. For more information on the Bay Psalm Book, visit https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/bay-psalm-book-and-american-printing/online-exhibition.html

Compare this song to:

"Let Us Break Bread Together,"


"God Save the King."


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