Behind the Music
The hymn "O For a Thousand Tongues" was written by the prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley. Wesley penned this hymn on the first anniversary of his conversion in 1739. As seen below, the poem originally contained eighteen stanzas in which almost all point to a different angle of the gospel and praises God for his redemption given to us in Christ. You can also see a progression from the personal effects of the gospel to the corporate effects of the gospel.
Charles Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns. The most popular tune, AZMON, was wedded with the text nearly 90 years (1828) after Charles Wesley first wrote this poem. The Wesley brothers were very proud writers. A great example is found in the preface of a published hymnbook from the Wesleys. John writes. "And here I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I should long ago have inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to stir up a nest of hornets. Many gentlemen have done my brother and me (though without naming us) the honour to reprint many of our Hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome so to do, provided they print them just as they are. But I desire they would not attempt to mend them; for they really are not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore, I must beg of them one of these two favours; either to let them stand just as they are, to take them for better for worse; or to add the true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page; that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men." Despite the forgivable arrogant statement, the lyrics below are definitely worth reading.
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 fill’d 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 Saviour 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 own’d His promise true,
Ascertain’d of my part,
My pardon pass’d in heaven I knew,
When written on my heart.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.
My gracious Master, and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
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!
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.
He speaks; and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
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.
Look unto Him, ye nations; own
Your God, ye fallen race!
Look, and be saved through faith alone;
Be justified by grace!
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.
Harlots, and publicans, and thieves
In holy triumph join;
Saved is the sinner that believes
From crimes as great as mine.
Murderers, and all ye hellish crew,
Ye sons of lust and pride,
Believe the Saviour died for you;
For me the Saviour died.
Awake from guilty nature’s sleep,
And Christ shall give you light,
Cast all your sins into the deep,
And wash the sinner* white.
With me, your chief, you then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven