Psalm 96

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Psalm 96
"Sing a new song unto the Lord"
Royal psalm
Stundenbuch der Maria von Burgund Wien cod. 1857 Engel.jpg
Beginning of Cantate Domino in the Hours of Mary of Burgundy, 1477
Other name
  • "Cantate Domino"
  • "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied"
  • "Laetentur caeli"
LanguageHebrew (original)

Psalm 96 is the 96th psalm of the Book of Psalms, a hymn. The first verse of the psalm calls to praise in singing, "O sing a new song unto the Lord". Similar to Psalm 98 ("Cantate Domino") and Psalm 149, the psalm calls to praise God in music and dance, because he has chosen his people and helped them to victory. It is one of the royal psalms praising God as the King of His people. In other versions of the Bible, such as the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 95 in a slightly different numbering system.

The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, and Anglican liturgies. The Latin conclusion, "Laetentur caeli", is used during the Christmas night liturgy. The psalm or verses of it have been paraphrased to hymns, and it has been set to music often, notably by Handel in his Chandos Anthems, by Mendelssohn who quoted from it in a movement of his choral symphony Lobgesang, and Zoltán Gárdonyi as part of three motets. "Joy to the World" is among the hymns based on Psalm 96.

Background and themes[edit]

According to Radak, this psalm was composed by David when he brought the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem. On this day, David composed two songs – Hodu, and "Sing to the Lord, the entire earth" (verse 2 of this psalm, which is also recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:23). As recounted in 1 Chronicles 16:7, David instructed Asaph and his brothers to sing these songs daily. Hodu was sung before the Ark every morning, and Psalm 96 was sung before the Ark every afternoon, until the time the Temple was constructed and the Ark was moved into it.[1]

In Hebrew, this psalm is known as Shiru Lashem ("Sing to the Lord"), and repeats the word "sing" three times. According to the Midrash Tehillim, these three instances allude to the three daily prayer services "when Israel sings praises to God". They are: Shacharit, the morning prayer, corresponding to "Sing a new song to the Lord" (verse 1); Mincha, the afternoon prayer, corresponding to "Sing to the Lord, all the earth" (verse 1); and Maariv, the evening prayer, corresponding to "Sing to the Lord, bless His Name" (verse 2).[2][3]

In Christian scholarship, Psalm 96 is a "missionary hymn".[4] It is specifically paired with Psalm 95, which described "Israel's hard-heartedness" toward God in the desert. Christian scholars assert that Israel employed that same hard-heartedness to reject Jesus as the Messiah, so now the Christians have the task of declaring the gospel to the world.[4][5] Henry interprets verses 10 to 13 in this psalm as instructions of what to say for those who preach the gospel.[6]

Biblical scholars note numerous thematic and structural similarities between Psalm 96 and Psalm 97, which are both "Kingship of YHWH" psalms.[7]


Hebrew Bible version[edit]

Following is the Hebrew text of Psalm 96:

Verse Hebrew
1 שִׁ֣ירוּ לַֽ֖יהֹוָה שִׁ֥יר חָדָ֑שׁ שִׁ֥ירוּ לַֽ֜יהֹוָ֗ה כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ
2 שִׁ֣ירוּ לַ֖יהֹוָה בָּֽרֲכ֣וּ שְׁמ֑וֹ בַּשְּׂר֥וּ מִיּֽוֹם־לְ֜י֗וֹם יְשֽׁוּעָתֽוֹ
3 סַפְּר֣וּ בַגּוֹיִ֣ם כְּבוֹד֑וֹ בְּכָל־הָֽ֜עַמִּ֗ים נִפְלְאוֹתָֽיו
4 כִּ֥י גָ֘ד֚וֹל יְהֹוָ֣ה וּמְהֻלָּ֣ל מְאֹ֑ד נוֹרָ֥א ה֜֗וּא עַל־כָּל־אֱלֹהִֽים
5 כִּ֚י | כָּל־אֱלֹהֵ֣י הָעַמִּ֣ים אֱלִילִ֑ים וַֽ֜יהֹוָ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם עָשָֽׂה
6 הוֹד־וְהָדָ֥ר לְפָנָ֑יו עֹ֥ז וְ֜תִפְאֶ֗רֶת בְּמִקְדָּשֽׁוֹ
7 הָב֣וּ לַֽ֖יהֹוָה מִשְׁפְּח֣וֹת עַמִּ֑ים הָב֥וּ לַֽ֜יהֹוָ֗ה כָּב֥וֹד וָעֹֽז
8 הָב֣וּ לַֽ֖יהֹוָה כְּב֣וֹד שְׁמ֑וֹ שְׂא֥וּ מִ֜נְחָ֗ה וּבֹ֥אוּ לְחַצְרוֹתָֽיו
9 הִשְׁתַּֽחֲו֣וּ לַֽ֖יהֹוָה בְּהַדְרַת־קֹ֑דֶשׁ חִ֥ילוּ מִ֜פָּנָ֗יו כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ
10 אִמְר֚וּ בַגּוֹיִ֨ם | יְה֘וָ֚ה מָלָ֗ךְ אַף־תִּכּ֣וֹן תֵּבֵ֣ל בַּל־תִּמּ֑וֹט יָדִ֥ין עַ֜מִּ֗ים בְּמֵֽישָׁרִֽים
11 יִשְׂמְח֣וּ הַ֖שָּׁמַיִם וְתָגֵ֣ל הָאָ֑רֶץ יִרְעַ֥ם הַ֜יָּ֗ם וּמְלֹאֽוֹ
12 יַֽעֲלֹ֣ז שָׂ֖דַי וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־בּ֑וֹ אָ֥ז יְ֜רַנְּנ֗וּ כָּל־עֲצֵי־יָֽעַר
13 לִפְנֵ֚י יְהֹוָ֨ה | כִּ֬י בָ֗א כִּ֥י בָא֘ לִשְׁפֹּ֪ט הָ֫אָ֥רֶץ יִשְׁפֹּט־תֵּבֵ֥ל בְּצֶ֑דֶק וְ֜עַמִּ֗ים בֶּאֱמֽוּנָתֽוֹ

King James Version[edit]

  1. O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.
  2. Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.
  3. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.
  4. For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.
  5. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
  6. Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
  7. Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
  8. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.
  9. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.
  10. Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.
  11. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.
  12. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice
  13. Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.



Psalm 96 is the second of six psalms recited during the Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming the Shabbat) service.[8] These six psalms represent the six days of the week, with Psalm 96 corresponding to the second day of the week (Monday).[9]

Verses 4 and 9 are part of Selichot.[10]

Psalm 96 is recited to increase joy among family members.[11]


The final three verses in Latin, "Laetentur caeli", comprise the offertory antiphon used in the Mass During the Night for the Nativity of the Lord.[12]

Musical settings[edit]

Calling to sing, Psalm 96 has been paraphrased to hymns, and set to music often. Hymns referring to the psalm include the 1901 "This Is My Father's World", the Christmas carol "Joy to the World", and "Sing to the Lord a new made song".[13]

Baroque composers :

In the 19th century, Mendelssohn quoted from Psalm 96 in movement 10 of his choral symphony Lobgesang on biblical texts in 1810. Czech composer Antonín Dvořák quoted the psalm, combined with verses of Psalm 98, in the final movement of his Biblical Songs of 1894.[20]

In the 20th century, Zoltán Gárdonyi set Psalm 96 as part of three motets in German, "Singet dem Herren", for mixed choir a cappella, along with a Finnish song and Psalm 23, published by Schott.[21] James MacMillan wrote "A New Song" in 1997, with lyrics taken from this Psalm.[22]

Music inspired by the psalm also includes a gospel blues by Blind Willie Johnson, "Church, I'm Fully Saved To-Day",[23] based on the hymn "Fully Saved Today".[24]


  1. ^ Rubin 2005, p. 284.
  2. ^ Nulman 1996, p. 307.
  3. ^ "Midrash Tehillim / Psalms 96" (PDF). Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Charles H. Spurgeon's Treasury of David". 2019. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  5. ^ Cole, Steven J. (2009). "Psalm 96: Worshiping, Witnessing, Waiting". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  6. ^ Henry, Matthew (2019). "Matthew Henry Bible Commentary". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  7. ^ Howard Jr. 1997, pp. 141–4.
  8. ^ Kadden, Bruce; Kadden, Barbara Binder (2004). Teaching Tefilah: Insights and Activities on Prayer. Behrman House. p. 87. ISBN 0867050861.
  9. ^ Nulman 1996, p. 225.
  10. ^ Brauner, Reuven (2013). "Shimush Pesukim: Comprehensive Index to Liturgical and Ceremonial Uses of Biblical Verses and Passages" (PDF) (2nd ed.). p. 44.
  11. ^ "Emotions/Fear/Behavior". Daily Tehillim. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Gregorian Propers • St. René Goupil Gradual". Corpus Christi Watershed. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  13. ^ Hymns for Psalm 96
  14. ^ Schütz, Heinrich / Der Beckersche Psalter SWV 97a-256a Bärenreiter
  15. ^ O Sing unto the Lord a New Song, HWV 249a (Handel, George Frideric): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
  16. ^ G. F. Handel: "O Come Let Us Sing Unto the Lord," H. 253 (Chandos Anthem 8) Emmanuel Music
  17. ^ Laetentur coeli (Orlando di Lasso): Free scores at the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
  18. ^ Laetentur coeli a 8 (Giovanni Bassano): Free scores at the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
  19. ^ Laetentur caeli: Free scores at the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
  20. ^ "Biblical Songs". Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  21. ^ "Three motets". Schott. 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  22. ^ "James MacMillan - A New Song". Boosey & Hawkes. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  23. ^ Wirz, Stefan. "Blind Willie Johnson discography". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  24. ^ "Fully Saved Today". Retrieved 31 January 2015.


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