O For a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
By: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
Listen as you read. This version is from Together for the Gospel.
My dear, or as it has sometimes been altered to, great Redeemer is indeed worthy of praise. Check.
My God and King certainly is glorious. Check.
His grace has absolutely triumphed over all. Check.
Really the most thought-provoking, pondering worthy line in the opening stanza to this beloved hymn is the first. Herein we understand the longing of the writer to have a thousand tongues to sing the praises of our God. I have often wondered if he meant both of the things that immediately come to mind for me and I am certain many others, worshippers across the more than two centuries this song has been sung.
1000 actual tongues
My single tongue simply is inadequate to declare the praise, glory and triumph of my King. I wish that I had 999 more, or while I am at, maybe 100,000, though in essence this would still not be enough to adequately, or throughly tell His worth. Though I must admit I would agree with St. Catherine that any number of of tongues breaking the silence would be far superior to those same tongues remaining stilled.
That quote got me thinking about how many of us are often tricked into constraining our praise for any number of reasons. Not the right moment. Not the right crowd. Not the right place. Lord, have mercy on us for holding our tongues in times we should have loosed them, especially when it comes to using them to bring you praise. When we speak the praises of God we breathe “life and health and peace” [quoting a later stanza] to an otherwise dying, sick and strife-filled world. I think rotten pretty much some up any place where the praise of God has been squelched.
Jesus, cause me to be unwilling to allow my praise to stay silent. Empower my tongue that it may erupt with unceasing adoration for Your Name. When it does, push back a bit of the rot of this weary world, and in that moment and place, establish Your kingdom! Begin in my soul, as I speak within, but cause it to grow, until it bursts without.
1000 different languages
My single language simply is insufficient to speak the inestimable worth of my dear Redeemer, my glorious God, my gracious King. Oh, that I might be able to speak 1000 different languages. Each has not only unique sounds and articulations, but certainly expressions that are idiomatic and colloquial as well as guttural, managing somehow to expound on the magnanimous character of our God. This brings to mind some memories…
- Traveling abroad and being in awe as I heard God’s praises sung in multiple languages at once.
- Learning the Dvorak Biblical Songs in their original Slovakian, with the help of a native speaker and marveling at the beauty of the unfamiliar sounds.
- Talking with a tour guide in Europe who spoke six languages and envying him not because he could converse with so many different people, but because he could express his praise in so many different ways, not to mention the possibility of dreaming of praising God in a language not my first.
This thought also reminds me of the Day of Pentecost, and allows me to see the blessing hidden initially in God’s working at the Tower of Babel. We began to think to highly of ourselves so God muddled our ability to communicate with all people by creating distinct languages. This curse comes full circle and essentially becomes as blessing when at the Day of Pentecost people from all over the world each heard the disciples speaking their native tongue. I do not even need to broach the controversial and divisive subject of the gift of tongues to make the point that having other means to praise God is a reasonable desire for every believer.
Holy Spirit, whether I develop the ability to speak another language or You supernaturally give me such utterance, enable me to use every capacity I have at any given moment to give praise to God. I long for the greatest ability possible, whether in number or skill, to sing the glories of my God, but instead simply ask that You help me to make the very most of the one tongue I currently possess. May I ever and only use it for this highest of purposes.
Finding some help here tuning? Subscribe to get updates of new tools to help you be Resonant.