Re-tuning “Let Us Love, and Sing, and Wonder” (John Newton)

Re-tuning is the term used for giving a new melody to an old lyric.

John Newton first published “Let Us Love, and Sing, and Wonder” in his book Twenty Six Letters on Religious Subjects (1774), pages 218-19. In this collection, it was entitled “Praise to the Redeemer.”

He also included it in Olney Hymns (1779), pages 218-219. Here he gave it the title “Praise for redeeming love.”

Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior’s Name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

Let us love the Lord Who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies,
Called us by His grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

Let us sing, though fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong Salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown:
He Who washed us with His blood
Soon will bring us home to God.

Let us wonder; grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.

Let us praise, and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high;
Here they trusted Him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky:
“Thou hast washed us with Your blood;
Thou art worthy, Lamb of God!”

Hark! the Name of Jesus, sounded
Loud, from golden harps above!
Lord, we blush, and are confounded,
Faint our praises, cold our love!
Wash our souls and songs with blood,
For by Thee we come to God.

This hymn is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. It’s no wonder that it is one of his most re-tuned lyrics.

The italics above appear in the original 1779 printing of Olney Hymns. They draw the reader’s eye to the hymn’s structure. The first two lines serve as a road map for the rest of the hymn. “Let us love, and sing, and wonder / Let us praise the Savior’s name.” Each of these four ideas is then developed into a full verse.

The rhyming scheme shows the same level of intricate craftsmanship. Lines 2 and 4 rhyme in most hymns. A few especially daring writers challenge themselves with also rhyming lines 1 and 3. But Newton gave himself an exponentially harder task here: Lines 1 and 3 are two-syllable rhymes. Wonder/thunder, bought us/taught us, temptation/salvation, justice/trust is, chorus/before us, and sounded/confounded.

You might not notice these details on a casual reading. But they work together to make this lyric linger in your memory.

Classic Melodies

Older hymnals frequently pair this lyric with the melody “All Saints” (free sheet music).

It’s actually more singable than some of the modern alternatives. But it’s also rather ornate and stately, enough so as to explain the hymn’s decline into obscurity in many denominations. It remains popular in Presbyterian denominations and in some high-church settings in Great Britain.

Another frequent pairing of this lyric is with Henry Smart’s tune “Regent Square,” best known today as the melody for “Angels, From the Realms of Glory.”

This wasn’t the only melody used in olden times.

Honorable Mentions

  • Christopher Norton wrote a melody, available in printed songbooks like this one. I cannot find a recorded version online.
  • Christopher Idle wrote a new fourth verse.

Worship Today

Wes Ramsay wrote the melody for a choral arrangement for Discover Worship.

His arrangement has a nice energy, but does seem to be most suited to its original target audience of choirs. It would also work well for trios and quartets.

Jars of Clay/Indelible Grace

Melody by Laura Taylor | Free sheet music

This melody moves enough to make it challenging for untrained voices.

Daniel Renstrom

Renstrom’s is one of the more edgy, guitar-driven renditions:

Renstrom adds a new chorus, but his unique chord progressions in the verses are the highlight of this rendition.

Todd Murray

Much like Newton, Todd Murray is a pastor and songwriter. He released a CD of Newton’s forgotten hymns, including his new musical setting of this lyric.

It’s a catchy, memorable melody, the most soulful of any here.

Buddy Greene

The finest of the modern melodies was written by Gospel/Bluegrass singer/songwriter Buddy Greene. (He also wrote the melody for the Christmas classic “Mary, Did You Know.:)

This one is well-suited to congregational singing. But it’s also good for soloists, choirs, or vocal groups. It’s the strongest of the modern re-tunings.

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