Perhaps as you’ve gathered from some of my past posts (G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J.S. Bach), I rather enjoy old things, particularly old things written by wise but dead men. Thus it is only natural to conclude that I rather enjoy hymns. This would be an astute observation and a true one at that. I do enjoy many modern worship songs as well, but there’s just something about the hymns of old that capture my attention. Isn’t it amazing to imagine that these songs have been in the family of Christ for a hundred, or even hundreds, of years? I consider them an heirloom passed down from generation to generation; or as one man I heard put it, they’re our “family songs”.
So now for what is perhaps my favorite hymn. For some reason, this was the first hymn I remember having entirely memorized. As far as I know (I could be wrong), I first heard it in Windsor, Colorado at the Ellerslie Leadership Training. Since then, I have come to see how the text embodies everything I believe and want. That hymn is “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by Charles Wesley (the man in the picture).
Like many well known hymns today, this one originally had 18 stanzas and was published as “For the Anniversary Day of One’s Conversion”. Verse 7 of this poem is the one that starts off the famous hymn, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise…” which is based on a saying Wesley had heard: “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with them all.” John Wesley, his brother, compiled a hymnbook in 1767, where the seventh stanza was made the first and it was the first hymn in the book. If you sing this song in your church, you’re probably singing stanzas 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the original poem.
You can find the entire original poem here, which is very beautiful and incredible. Since each stanza was written in the same rhythm as the others, you can still sing them with the familiar tune of the hymn. Along with that, David Crowder has done this hymn an honor by creating a modern version that is catchy, adds a chorus and two of the old stanzas, yet still contains the heart of Wesley’s original hymn. That can be found here.
I hope you are blessed today, and may we all be assisted “to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of His name!” And remember what He has done for us; for “He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free! His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood avails for me!” Amen.