Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (John Newton, 1779)

The Church as a Divine institution, the channel through which men are led to and blessed by God, Zion has naturally been the theme which has inspired the Church's singers. John Newton has furnished us one of this type of hymns, a hymn which was originally published in the Olney Hymns under the title of "Zion, or the City of God." It was a hymn of five stanzas, based on Isaiah 33 : 20, 21. The Olney Hymns were published in 1779.

Newton's hymn on the church of Christ

Glorious things of thee are spoken,

Zion, city of our God;
He, whose word cannot be broken,

Form'd thee for His own abode;
On the Rock of Ages founded,

What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded.

Thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

See the streams of living waters

Springing from eternal love.
Well supply thy sons and daughters,

And all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river

Ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace, which, like the Lord, the Giver,

Never fails from age to age.

Saviour, if of Zion's city

I, through grace, a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,

I will glory in Thy Name,
Fading is the wordling's pleasure,

All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure

None but Zion's children know.


This hymn, which is used in various forms both in England and in this country, has attained great popularity in all English-speaking countries. It ranks among the first hymns in English in every branch of the Protestant Church. It is interesting to note that a portion of this hymn has been translated into Latin and is included in a Latin Hymn book which was published in 1871.

Below is a video featuring this beautiful hymn.

 

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