Great Four Anglican Hymns

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The "Great Four" are four hymns widely popular in Anglican and other Protestant churches during the 19th century.[1]

In his Anglican Hymnology, published in 1885, the Rev. James King surveyed 52 hymnals from the member churches of the Anglican Communion around the world, and found that 51 of them included these hymns, the so-called Great Four:[2]

  1. All Praise to Thee, my God, this Night,[3] Thomas Ken
  2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Charles Wesley
  3. Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending, Charles Wesley
  4. Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me, Augustus Montague Toplady

King also found the following six hymns in 49 of the 52 hymnals:

  1. Abide with Me, Fast Falls the Eventide, Henry Francis Lyte.
  2. Awake my Soul and With the Sun,[4] Thomas Ken
  3. Jerusalem the Golden,[5] Bernard of Cluny, Eng. Trans. by John Mason Neale
  1. Jesus, Lover of My Soul, Charles Wesley
  2. Sun of My Soul, Thou Savior Dear,[6] John Keble
  3. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Isaac Watts

All of these hymns likewise appear in The Best Church Hymns, published by the Rev. Louis F. Benson in 1898. Benson's collection of 32 frequently-published hymns from various churches was based upon a survey of 107 Protestant hymnals, including King's book, thus representing "the judgment of our common Protestantism."[7]