Linda Lee Johnson, author of the lyrics of this hymn (along with David who wrote Psalm 8) was born in Seattle, Washington. She has lived on the West Coast most of her life.
As of 2001, she lived in Castro Valley, California, with her husband Bruce, superintendent of Redwood Christian Schools. I’m guessing that they are retired now.
She has two grown children and three grandchildren. She began writing lyrics in 1978, working primarily with composer Tom Fettke (who also wrote the music to this song.)
This is the story about Tom Fettke and the two collaborated on this song.
I found a story by Tom Fettke on the writing of this song. Linda Lee Johnson was a member of the choir in a church where he was Minister of Music. He observed potential in her because of a Sunday School program she developed earlier and asked her to put the words of Psalm 8 (his favorite) into singable form. She didn’t share his confidence in her, but took up the challenge and came through with what he considered to be the mostly finalized lyrics, after a couple of weeks he had some struggles finishing the music, but took some stylistic inspiration from the piece, Moses by Ken Medema that helped him complete it after it had been resting in a drawer for awhile. After this piece, Linda and Tom collaborated on a number of choral pieces.
Be sure to listen to this arrangement sung on YouTube. It is different from most because it sung by an all male group, but I found it to be most helpful because it helped me focus on the words, not the instruments.
Can’t you picture David, the Psalmist, sitting out watching sheep, writing these words as He worships God?
When I gaze into the night sky,
And see the work of Your fingers.
The moon and stars suspended in space.
But what is man that You are mindful of him?
You have given man a crown of glory and honor.
And have made him a little lower than the angels.
You have put him in charge of all creation;
The beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea.
But what is man, oh, what is man
That You are mindful of him?
O Lord, our God the majesty and glory of Your name
Transcends the earth and fills the heavens.
O Lord, our God little children praise Him perfectly.
And so would we, and so would we.
Alleluia, Alleluia. The majesty and glory of Your name!
words by Linda Lee Johnson, Psalm 8
music by Tom Fettke
Meanwhile, think about who this God is that David is worshipping as he wrote in Psalm. 8.
Creator, Sustainer of His Creation,
Gives high value to humans,
We are higher than animals, lower than angels.
He puts us in authority over the animal kingdom.
God is majestic and glorious.
He transcends (is grander than it all) all around Him.
He is so worthy of our worship and praise.