Immortal Invisible God Only Wise

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Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise Genre Hymn Written 1867 Text Walter Chalmers Smith Based on 1 Timothy 1:17 Meter 8.8.4.4.8.8 with refrain Melody "St. Denio" "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" is a Christian hymn with words by Walter Chalmers Smith, usually sung to the tune, "St. Denio", originally a Welsh ballad tune.

1 Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

2 Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

3 To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small,
in all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.

4 Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
all praise we would render, O help us to see
'tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee!

Songwriters Walter C. Smith Published by Public Domain

The Story Behind Immortal Invisible God Only Wise

A Scottish Free Church minister educated at the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, Walter Smith served congregations throughout England. Perhaps his highest tribute came when he was elected moderator of the General Assembly in 1893 for the church's 50th Jubilee celebration.

This hymn is the only one of his collections of poetry that remains in common use. Hymnologist Albert Bailey says creating poetry was for Smith "the retreat of his nature from the burden of his labors."

Of this hymn, musicologist Erik Routley has written:

"[Immortal, Invisible] should give the reader a moment's pause. Most readers will think they know this hymn, the work of another Free Kirk minister. But it never now appears as its author wrote it, and a closer look at it in its fuller form shows that it was by no means designed to be one of those general hymns of praise that the parson slams into the praise-list when he is in too much of a hurry to think of anything else but a hymn about the reading of Scripture. Just occasionally editorial tinkering changes the whole personality of a hymn; it has certainly done so here."

 


 

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"Immortal, Invisible"

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