Behind the Hymn: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise


Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise was written by Walter Chalmers Smith, a pastor of the Free Church of Scotland.

Smith was born on December 5, 1824 in Aberdeen, Scotland.  He studied at the University of Aberdeen and New College in Edinburgh, Scotland.

He was an ordained minister at Chadwell Street Scottish Church in London and several

Reverend Walter Chalmers Smith

churches in Glasgow and Edinburgh {Scotland}. The Free Church of Scotland elected him its moderator during its Jubilee year in 1893. He was a distinguished preacher and a man of catholic sympathies.

The hymn is based on 1 Timothy 1:17, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise is the only hymn that remains in use of the numerous poems and hymns Smith wrote.  He had a considerable reputation as a poet.

The original version in six stanzas appeared in Smith’s Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life (1867). After a number of revisions, the four-stanza version was included in the influential The English Hymnal (1906), assuring its fame to the present day.

Smith died on September 19, 1908 and is buried in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise is the only hymn still sung by Rev. Walter C. Smith#hymnstory Share on X


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