Wednesday, December 21, 2005

From Out of the Carol Barrel - #2

Here is another great, yet oft-neglected Christmas carol.

This one was written by that most amazing poet, William Cowper and first published in John Newton's Olney Hymns. The Olney hymnbook has been reprinted (in original typeface) and is a beautiful companion in devotional times. Newton and Cowper could take simple spiritual thoughts and press them with great precision to the conscience. Cowper was certainly the better poet of the two, but where Newton's works lack poetic genius they more than make up for it in profound theology.

This carol could be sung to the tune “Walt­ham (Cal­kin),”by John B. Cal­kin (listen here.) This tune was written for the carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

My song shall bless the LORD of all,
My praise shall climb to his abode;
Thee, Savior, by that name I call,
The great Supreme, the mighty GOD.

Without beginning, or decline,
Object of faith, and not of sense;
Eternal ages saw him shine,
He shines eternal ages hence.

As much, when in the manger laid,
Almighty ruler of the sky;
As when the six days’ works he made,
Filled all the morning–stars with joy.

Of all the crowns JEHOVAH bears,
Salvation is his dearest claim;
That gracious sound well–pleased he hears,
And owns EMMANUEL for his name.

A cheerful confidence I feel,
My well–placed hopes with joy I see;
My bosom glows with heav’nly zeal
To worship him who died for me.

As man, he pities my complaint,
His pow’r and truth are all divine;
He will not fail, he cannot faint,
Salvation’s sure, and must be mine.

William Cowper, Olney Hymns (London: W. Oliver, 1779), # 38. 8,8,8,8

For more carols click here or here.


  1. Hey Paul,
    Thanks so much for these hymns. Here at Binbrook Baptist, we plan to sing the Luther hymn tonight (prayer meeting).

    By the way, if you have the info on where I can get my hands on the Olney Hymns, can you let me know? I've been looking for this set, and have tried to buy all the books I can before this precious money goes to diapers. Not that diapers aren't important. . .you know what I mean. If you don't mind, can you e-mail me this info, as I may not be on line for a while (Nat is due today but no signs of anything yet).

    Thanks too for all your posts. I've been keeping up with reading them (though I rarely comment). They really fill in the blanks in my study. The thoughts on youth ministry and church planting have been especially helpful.

    In Christ, Ian.

  2. If you don't have money to spend on books (like me), but the book is old and good (like Olney), then the best place to start looking is usually The link for the Olney Hymnal online is right here.