Forgotten Verses #9: Hark! The Herald Angels Song

During his lifetime, Charles Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns. One of his best-known, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” was composed in 1739. The first three verses are quite familiar: 1. Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Joyful, all ye nations rise,…

Forgotten Verses #8: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most noted American poets of the mid-1800s, wrote the words to “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day.” His first three verses are familiar: 1. I heard the bells on Christmas day Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good…

Forgotten Verses #7: Till The Storm Passes By

The Statesmen introduced many of Mosie Lister’s great songs. The Statesmen’s timeless arrangements have been emulated by so many of the groups that have recorded those songs since that the Statesmen arrangement practically defines how we know these songs today. An excellent case in point is “Till The Storm Passes By.” Mosie Lister originally wrote…

Forgotten Verses #6: “Sweet Hour of Prayer”

William Walford, a blind preacher, wrote the words to “Sweet Hour of Prayer” in 1845. The words didn’t become well known for another sixteen years; in 1861, William Bradbury—known today for his many collaborations with Fanny Crosby—wrote the melody we sing today. The song made its first appearance in the 1861 hymnal Golden Chain. The hymn…

Forgotten Verses #5: There Is A Fountain

In our previous entry in the Forgotten Verses column, we discussed the publication of the hymnal Olney Hymns, by John Newton and William Cowper. Two of the greatest hymns in the history of the church were introduced in this hymnal. One, “Amazing Grace,” we discussed in the last column. Today, let’s look at the other, “There…

Forgotten Verses #4: Amazing Grace

February 15, 1779 was a momentous day in the history of English-language hymnwriting. In February 1779, the American Revolution was still under way, and an attempt by French and American forces to recapture Savannah, Georgia had just failed. Armies on both sides were gearing up for their summer campaigns. So it would perhaps be understandable…

Forgotten Verses #3: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Isaac Watts is counted as the father of English-language hymn-writing, and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is usually acknowledged as his greatest work. In fact, Charles Wesley, another person who would stand shoulder to shoulder with Watts on any top-five list of greatest English-language hymn-writers, reportedly commented that he would have given up every…

Forgotten Verses #1: “It is Well With My Soul”

As we know it, the fourth and concluding verse of “It is Well With My Soul” begins with, “And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight.” But, originally, that wasn’t verse #4—it was verse #6. Horatio Spafford originally wrote six verses to the song. Verses 1-3 in Spafford’s original are the same…