Praising the Lord Through Kethe’s Masterpiece
“All People That on Earth Do Dwell” was the most well-known hymn written by a Scottish clergyman William Kethe. People sang the hymn on June 2, 1953, during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey, London. William based the song on Psalm 100, which contains praises to the Lord composed by the Levites. In the ancient times, they sing the psalm on the annual celebration of the Lord’s kingship over all His creation. The first and third stanza is about singing joyful songs to worship the Lord. The second stanza means we are He is our shepherd, and we are his sheep. The fourth stanza is about the never-failing love of God to His people. The song was the oldest metrical psalm in the Psalter Hymnal. "All People That on Earth Do Dwell” was first published in 1561 in Psalms of David in English Metre of John Day and the Anglo-Genevan Psalter.
According to Thomas Warton and John Strype, the author William Kethe is a Scotsman, although the exact date of when he was born and when he died remained undiscovered. He fled to Geneva in the 1550s during Queen Mary’s persecution. After a few years, Kethe transferred to Strasbourg and Basel to stay connected with other English refugees. His hymn “All People That on Earth Do Dwell,” is the only hymn that was passed on to this day. However, rumors said that he was one of the scholars who translated the Bible to Geneva language and published the Geneva Bible in 1560.
The composer of the tune, Loys “Louis” Bourgeois was a French musician born in 1510. He was a music theorist of the Renaissance period. He was known for his contribution to the Genevan Psalter, a metrical psalter written in French. The melody was mainly used for liturgical use in the sixteenth century by the Reformed churches in Geneva. Louis moved to Geneva the same time John Calvin returned home after his service as cantor and master of choristers in Strasbourgh, Bourgeois. One of Bourgeois’s most well-known melodies was called the Protestant doxology, also known as the Old 100th.