O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
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"O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" is a Christian hymn written by Charles Wesley. Charles Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns, many of which were subsequently reprinted, frequently with alterations, in hymnals, particularly those of Methodist Churches.
Charles Wesley was suffering a bout of pleurisy in May, 1738, while he and his brother were studying under the Moravian scholar Peter Böhler in London. At the time, Wesley was plagued by extreme doubts about his faith. Taken to bed with the sickness on May 21 Wesley was attended by a group of Christians who offered him testimony and basic care, and he was deeply affected by this. He read from his Bible and found himself deeply affected by the words, and at peace with God. Shortly his strength began to return. He wrote of this experience in his journal and counted it as a renewal of his faith; when his brother John had a similar experience on the 24th, the two men met and sang a hymn Wesley had written in praise of his renewal.
One year from the experience, Wesley was taken with the urge to write another hymn, this one in commemoration of his renewal of faith. This hymn took the form of an 18-stanza poem, beginning with the opening lines 'Glory to God, and praise, and love,/Be ever, ever given' and was published in 1740 and entitled 'For the anniversary day of one's conversion'. The seventh verse, which begins, 'O for a thousand tongues to sing', and which now is invariably the first verse of a shorter hymn, recalls the words of Peter Böhler who said, 'Had I a thousand tongues I would praise Him with them all.' The hymn was placed first in John Wesley's A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists published in 1780. It appeared first in every (Wesleyan) Methodist hymnal from that time until the publication of Hymns and Psalms in 1983.
Today the hymn is often condensed into a smaller number (typically between six and eight) stanzas.
The original lyrics are:
1. Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given;
By Saints below, and Saints above,
The church in earth and Heaven.
2. On this glad day the glorious Sun
Of Righteousness arose;
On my benighted soul He shone
And fill’d it with repose.
3. Sudden expired the legal strife;
’Twas then I ceased to grieve;
My second, real, living life
I then began to live.
4. Then with my heart I first believed,
Believed with faith Divine,
Power with the Holy Ghost received
To call the Saviour mine.
5. 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!
6. I found, and own’d His promise true,
Ascertain’d of my part,
My pardon pass’d in heaven I knew,
When written on my heart.
7. O for a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.
8. My gracious Master, and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
9. 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!
10. He breaks the power of cancell’d sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avail’d for me.
11. He speaks; and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
12. Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosen’d tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Saviour come;
And leap, ye lame, for joy.
13. Look unto Him, ye nations; own
Your God, ye fallen race!
Look, and be saved through faith alone;
Be justified by grace!
14. See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.
15. Harlots, and publicans, and thieves
In holy triumph join;
Saved is the sinner that believes
From crimes as great as mine.
16. Murderers, and all ye hellish crew,
Ye sons of lust and pride,
Believe the Saviour died for you;
For me the Saviour died.
17. Awake from guilty nature’s sleep,
And Christ shall give you light,
Cast all your sins into the deep,
And wash the Ethiop white.
18. With me, your chief, you then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.
In the U.S., the hymn is commonly sung to Lowell Mason’s 1839 arrangement of the hymn tune Azmon, written by Carl G. Glaser in 1828. Mason's arrangement was written as a setting for this hymn. In Great Britain the tune Lydia by Thomas Phillips or Richmond by Thomas Haweis are commonly used, though in larger congregations Thomas Jarman's tune "Lyngham" is favoured. Hymns Ancient and Modern has A. J. Eyre's "Selby" and J. H. Coombes's "Oxford New". In Australia, Lyngham is the favoured tune in churches, although Azmon and Lydia are also widely used.
- Foust, Michael (2004-12-31). "James Sullivan's faith, wit, leadership remembered at service". Baptist Press. Southern Baptist Convention. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- According to the use of the Episcopal Church. The Hymnal 1982. The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1982, hymn number 493
- Watson, J.R.; Trickett, K. (1988). Companion to Hymns and Psalms. Methodist Publishing House. ISBN 978-0-946550-15-9.
- "Singing Hymns and Hers". TIME. 1989-06-12. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- Tyson, John R., editor. Charles Wesley: A Reader 1989. Retrieved 2012-03-26.