A bout of pleurisy while studying under Peter Bohler led to the renewal of Charles Wesley’s faith on May 21, 1738. One year after this renewal, he decided to write a hymn to commemorate this event. The result was an 18 stanza long poem. The seventh verse, which says, “O for a thousand tongues to sing” has become the first verse of the shorter hymn we know today. The reference for these words is most likely from Peter Bohler who said, “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Him with them all.” The hymn was placed first in John Wesley’s A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists published in 1780. The music to which we traditionally sing these words was composed by Lowell Mason in 1839. Mr. Mason was the first music teacher hired by an American public school. He wrote music for over 1600 hymns and is said to be the “Father of American Church Music.”1
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 thro’ all the earth abroad
The honours of your 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 cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.
To God all glory, praise, and love
Be now and ever given
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heaven.