Wednesday, March 2, 2016

O for a thousand tongues

The hymn, "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" has been on my mind the last few days. It's featured in my devotional reading today.

I looked it up and learned that, it comes from an 18 stanza poem that Charles Wesley wrote in 1739 to celebrate the one year anniversary of a profound renewal of his faith. He had been seriously ill and was plagued with doubts. A group of Christians ministered to his physical needs and shared their testimonies with him. As he read his Bible, Wesley was deeply affected and found peace with God. His strength began to return soon after that.* 

"Wesley acquired the title phrase of this text from Peter Böhler, a Moravian, who said to Wesley, 'If I had a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ with them all'"** 

I pray that I will have so much love for God that I will praise him more with the one tongue that I do have! 

I found the original 18 stanza poem written by Wesley on Wikisource. Here are the first six stanzas that he wrote for the poem to commemorate his spiritual renewal. Although they aren't included in our hymnals, they are well worth reading. I love how they both teach the Gospel and tell the story of his renewal. I especially like the fifth stanza. I too feel a crescendo of joy welling up in my spirit, along with the author, as I read of Christ's atoning blood and love for me. The verses we sing are taken from the remaining 12 stanzas. The title phrase occurs in the first line of the seventh stanza.
"Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The church in earth and heaven.

On this glad day the glorious Sun
Of Righteousness arose;
On my benighted soul He shone
And filled it with repose.

Sudden expired the legal strife,
’Twas then I ceased to grieve;
My second, real, living life
I then began to live.

Then with my heart I first believed,
Believed with faith divine,
Power with the Holy Ghost received
To call the Savior mine.

I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
Close to my soul applied;
Me, me He loved, the Son of God,
For me, for me He died!

I found and owned His promise true,
Ascertained of my part,
My pardon passed in heaven I knew
When written on my heart."
Then the part we sing starts here:
My hymnal has 5 verses. I found this version on  It comes from "Lutheran Service Book" 2006. Wesley's poem of course has about 12 more stanzas to go, but that seems a little long to quote here.

1 Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

2 My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad,
The honors of Thy name.

3 Jesus! The name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life and health and peace.

4 He breaks the pow'r of canceled sin;
He sets the pris'ner free.
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood avails for me.

5 Look unto Him, ye nations; own
Your God, ye fallen race.
Look and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

6 See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain;
His soul was once an off'ring made
For ev'ry soul of man.

7 To God all glory, praise, and love
Be now and ever giv'n
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heav'n.

My hymnal also includes, "Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, Your loosened tongues employ; Ye blind, behold your Savior come; And leap, ye lame, for joy."  

*You can read more about the song and Wesley's renewal at

**"(Böhler was actually quoting from Johann Mentzner's German hymn 'O dass ich tausend Zungen hätte')."

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