If children, then…heirs of God.@Romans 8:17

Harriet E. Buell, 1877. The lyrics first appeared in The Northern Christian Advocate, February 1, 1877, as a poem titled The Child of a King. John Sumner had been praying for a Gospel song to replace the one that would have been written by his friend and teacher Philip Bliss, who had recently suffered an untimely death. When Sumner saw these words, he knew his prayer had been answered.

John B. Sumner (🔊 pdf nwc).

Mr. Peter P. Bilhorn relates the following incident in connection with this hymn, which happened when he was engaged in evangelistic work among the cowboys in the West, in 1883. We had started up the Missouri River for Bismarck, and on Sunday we stopped at a new town, named Blunt, to unload some freight. A crowd of men and boys came down to the wharf. I took my little organ, went on the wharf-boat, and sang a few songs—among others the glorious hymn, ‘I’m a child of a King.’ I thought nothing more of the occasion until long afterward, when I sang the same song in Mr. Moody’s church in Chicago [Illinois]. Then a man in the back part of the house arose, and said in a trembling voice: Two years ago I heard that song at Blunt, Dakota; I was then an unsaved man, but that song set me to thinking, and I decided to accept Christ, and I am now studying for the ministry.’

Sankey, pp. 258-59

portrait
John B. Sumner (1839-1918)

My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.

Refrain

I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King.

My Father’s own Son, the Savior of men,
Once wandered on earth as the poorest of them;
But now He is pleading our pardon on high,
That we may be His when He comes by and by.

Refrain

I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, an alien by birth,
But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.

Refrain

A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
They’re building a palace for me over there;
Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing:
All glory to God, I’m a child of the King.

Refrain