Scripture Verse

King of kings, and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:16

Introduction

Words: Hen­ry Bur­ton, 1887, alt.

Music: Rex Re­gum John Stain­er (1840–1901) (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
John Stainer
(1840–1901)

Doctor Bur­ton was one of three to be asked to write an ode for the ju­bi­lee of Queen Vic­tor­ia. It was set to mu­sic by Sir John Stain­er, and sung at a spe­cial fes­ti­val of the Na­tion­al Child­ren’s Home and Orp­han­age, in the Roy­al Al­bert Hall, Lon­don, by a choir of a thou­sand voic­es, ac­com­pa­nied by an or­che­stra of se­ve­nty ins­tru­ments, Mad­ame An­toin­ette Stir­ling and Mr. John Po­bert tak­ing the solos.

Sir John Stain­er af­ter­ward wrote Doc­tor Bur­ton, ask­ing if he could not put it in an­oth­er form which would be suit­a­ble for any oc­ca­sion, and he would adapt the mu­sic to it. This Doc­tor Bur­ton did, and the hymn was evolved which has been des­cribed as the fin­est na­tion­al an­them of mo­dern times.

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Lyrics

O King of kings, O Lord of hosts,
Whose throne is lifted high
Above the nations of the earth,
The armies of the sky,
The spirits of perfected saints
May give their nobler songs
And we, Thy children, worship Thee,
To whom all praise belongs.

Thy hand has hid within our fields
Treasures of countless worth;
The light, the suns of other years,
Shine from the depths of earth;
The very dust, inbreathed by Thee,
The clods all cold and dead,
Wake into beauty and to life,
To give Thy children bread.

Thou who hast sown the sky with stars,
And set Thy thoughts in gold,
Hast crowned our nation’s life, and ours,
With blessings manifold;
Thy mercies have been numberless;
Thy love, Thy grace, Thy care,
Were wider than our utmost need,
And higher than our prayer.

O King of kings, O Lord of hosts,
Our fathers’ God and ours!
Be with us in the future years;
And if the tempest lowers,
Look through the cloud with light of love,
And smile our tears away
And lead us through the brightening years
To Heaven’s eternal day.