Hymn Story: O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing was one of the more than six thousand hymns that was written by Charles Wesley.

In May 1738, Charles Wesley was suffering from pleurisy, while studying with his brother, John, in London. During this time he was plagued with extreme doubts regarding his faith.

After taking to his bed, he attended a Bible Study on May 21st, where he heard numerous testimonies. He was deeply affected by this Bible Study and the passage he read in his Bible.

Charles Wesley

On May 21, 1738, he gave him heart and life over the Christ. Three days later his brother had a similar experience.

Eleven years later, he wrote a 18 stanza poem about his conversion.

He is said to be inspired by Peter Bohler, an influential Moravian leader. Bholer is said to say “Had I a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ Jesus with all of them.”

The hymn was originally titled “For the Anniversary Day of One’s Conversion.”

The seventh verse began “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and became the first verse of the hymn we know today. Stanzas 7-10 of Wesley’s original poem comprise the hymn we now sing.

The hymn was placed first in John Wesley’s A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists published in 1780.

The tune most commonly used in the United States is an arrangement Lowell Mason wrote based on a tune known as Azmon by Carl G. Glaser in 1828.

In Great Britain the tunes Lydia by Thomas Phillips or Richmond by Thomas Haweis are most often used.

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