Joachim Neander wrote this hymn and sixty more. He was a member of the German Reformed Church, and was strongly influenced by Philip Spener, the founder of Pietism. A rambunctious sort in his youth, he became involved in ministry in his 20s, but died at age 30 of tuberculosis. However, his hymns, particularly this one and the more famous “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation” have inspired Christian worship for more than three centuries (Neander died in 1680).
This hymn calls us to trust God rather than “mortal pride” or “earthly glory.” It reminds us that “sword and crown betray our trust.” It calls us to praise the one whose “great goodness e’er endureth.”
An interesting side note: Neander’s family name had originally been Neumann, which means “New Man” in German. However, Joachim’s grandfather changed his name to the Greek form, Neander, and that became the family name. Joachim Neander enjoyed the outdoors, and used to spend much time in the lovely Dussel River Valley. After his death, grateful people honored Neander by naming the valley after him. In German, “thal” means valley, so the name of the valley became Neanderthal. Nearly two centuries later in 1856, an ancient skeleton was discovered in that valley. It became known as the Neanderthal Man because of the name of the valley in which the skeleton was discovered. So the Neanderthal Man was named after the valley that was earlier named after the writer of this hymn.
— Copyright 2007, Richard Niell Donovan