Hymn Story: O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Oh For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
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O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise; The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace!

One of the 6,000 hymns written by Charles Wesley, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing was written by Wesley in 1739 to commemorate the first anniversary of his conversion.

Read a story from Carl Price’s One Hundred and One Hymn Stories about Wesley’s conversion and they lyrics he penned to commemorate it.

Charles Wesley, the greatest hymn-writer in Methodist history, wrote over six thousand hymns, some of which have attained the first rank in English hymnody. He and his brother, John Wesley, admitted that they made more converts through their hymns than through their preaching.

Charles Wesley usually celebrated each anniversary of his birthday by writing a hymn of praise to God. Little wonder, therefore, that the first anniversary of his conversion, his spiritual birthday, should be celebrated by one of the most helpful hymns in use among Methodists.

The opening line of the hymn, “O for a thousand tongues to sing,” is reminiscent of a remark of praise to God, once uttered to Wesley by Peter Border : “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with them all.”

When Charles Wesley was converted he had been ill in bed for some time, and the fear of death had often come into his mind. On Sunday, May 21, 1738, his brother and some friends came in and sang a hymn. After they went out he prayed alone for some time.

In his journal we read: “I was composing myself to sleep in quietness and peace when I heard one come in and say, In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise, and believe, and thou shalt be healed of all thine infirmities. The words struck me to the heart. I lay musing and trembling.

With a strange palpitation of heart, I said, yet feared to say, I believe, I believe ! ” These memories he has woven into that wonderful third verse of the hymn:

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.

Charles WesleyLyrics for O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great 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 canceled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed 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 loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your savior come,
and leap, ye lame, for joy.

In Christ, your head, you then shall know,
shall feel your sins forgiven;
anticipate your heaven below,
and own that love is heaven.

 Although I cannot commend all of Charles Wesley’s theology, this is but one his many hymns that we can profit from.



Hymn Story taken from
One Hundred and One Hymn Stories by Carl F. Price.

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Clayton Kraby
Written by Clayton Kraby
I'm a Pastor in North Dakota and created ReasonableTheology.org to help make theology accessible for the everyday Christian. You can find me on Twitter @ClayKraby.