Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

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Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
Walter Chalmers Smith.jpg
Walter Chalmers Smith
TextWalter Chalmers Smith
Based on1 Timothy 1:17
Melody"St. Denio", Welsh folksong, arranged and published in 1839 by John Roberts

"Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" is a Christian hymn with words by the Free Church of Scotland minister, Walter Chalmers Smith, usually sung to the tune, "St. Denio", originally a Welsh ballad tune, which became a hymn (under the name "Palestrina") in Caniadau y Cyssegr ("Hymns of the Sanctuary", 1839) edited by John Roberts (Welsh bardic name: Ieuan Gwyllt) (1822–1877).[1][2] Of this hymn, musicologist Erik Routley has written:

"[Immortal, Invisible] should give the reader a moment's pause. Most readers will think they know this hymn, the work of another Free Kirk minister. But it never now appears as its author wrote it, and a closer look at it in its fuller form shows that it was by no means designed to be one of those general hymns of praise that the parson slams into the praise-list when he is in too much of a hurry to think of anything else but a hymn about the reading of Scripture. Just occasionally editorial tinkering changes the whole personality of a hymn; it has certainly done so here."[3]



  1. ^ Jacqui James, Between the Lines: Sources for Singing the Living Tradition, 2nd edition (Boston: Skinner House Books, 2001), 35.
  2. ^ "ST. DENIO". Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  3. ^ Erik Routley, A Panorama of Christian Hynmnody (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1979), 132. When first published in Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life (1867), the hymn had six verses. (pp. 210–211).

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