O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

6-5-19

-Drew Bundy

History

How much praise would be sufficient to glorify an infinite God? Answer: endless praise. That is why His people will spend eternity praising Him. These ideas are explored in one of Charles Wesley’s most popular hymns “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” This hymn was written by Wesley to commemorate the first anniversary of his conversion. A friend inspired him by suggesting that if he had a thousand tongues he would use all of them to praise God. This song begins with a doxology expressing this desire for a magnificent display of praise and the following verses describe this Jesus who is worthy of such adoration. Finally, there is a request that God would help us to be able to praise Him, because without His help, we are unable to properly praise Him.

The Gospel

Of course the greatest thing God can be praised for is His incredible plan of salvation, so Wesley is careful to articulate that truth. He says of Jesus, “He breaks the power of cancelled sin,/ He sets the prisoner free;/ His blood can make the foulest clean;/ His blood availed for me.” He even reminds his singers that they are to carry this message to the world, “spread through all the earth abroad.” 

Names of God

The names of God used are Redeemer, God, King, Jesus, Savior, and Master. These names communicate the reverence that an infinite God deserves and also His gospel working. There is no question in this song of who is being praised, and the emphasis on Jesus is a great blessing to focus our praise on His death and resurrection.

Heavenward Focus

This song is incredibly heavenward. On this significant anniversary Wesley is not caught up in himself or anything that he may have contributed, but instead is focused on God’s gracious dealing with him. His praise even extends as a call to those who do not yet know Christ to hear, see, and praise him.

Theological vs. Doxological

Though this song is mainly a doxology, Wesley states many truths in conjunction with the praise so that the singers are not left to fill that in themselves. He states something glorious and praises God for it in an exciting back and forth. This makes this song both Theological and Doxological.

Why Did it Get Its Score?

“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by Charles Wesley earned a 97% from the “Is it Helpful? Chart.” This song is very heavenward, is clear in its address to God, and has helpful thoughts about the gospel. All in all this song is one that leads singers to glorify God the Father and Jesus Christ for deliverance from sin and God’s glorious attributes.

Utilizing it in a Service

This song is often used, because of its rousing theme and tune, at the beginning of a service, but I think it can be equally useful to send people out ignited to spread the glory of God.

Check out what Hymnary.org has to say about this song.

Listen on Spotify

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See how this song compares to others in our Reviewed Songs.

Drew Bundy