Scripture Verse

The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich. Proverbs 10:22

Introduction

Introduction

Words: James Al­len & Wal­ter Shir­ley. Al­len pub­lished the orig­in­al ver­sion of this hymn in the Ken­dal Hymn Book in 1757. Shir­ley re­cast the words in 1770.

Music: Bat­ty Mo­ra­vi­an me­lo­dy, from the cho­rale Ringe recht in Er­bau­lich­er mu­sik­al­isch­en Chris­ten-schatz (Ba­sel, Swit­zer­land: 1745) (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

portrait
Walter Shirley
(1725–1786)
© National Portrait Gallery

Background

In its pre­sent form this hymn was wrought out of a bi­tter ex­per­i­ence in the life of Sir Wal­ter Shir­ley, who was at the time Rec­tor of Lough­rea in the Coun­ty of Gal­way, Ire­land.

His bro­ther, the Earl of Fer­rars, a man of ev­il ha­bits, en­gaged in a quar­rel with one of his ser­vants, who had long been in his em­ploy, and in the pas­sion of his an­ger he mur­dered the old man. He was at once im­pris­oned; and Shir­ley, though mor­ti­fied by the ter­ri­ble dis­grace which the re­volt­ing crime had brought upon his fa­mi­ly, jour­neyed to his bro­ther’s pri­son and re­mained near him dur­ing the dis­tress­ing weeks that fo­llowed.

The Earl was tried, con­vict­ed, and sen­tenced to be hanged at Ty­burn. Aft­er the ex­e­cu­tion Shir­ley, worn out by his long vi­gil and hu­mil­i­at­ed in spir­it, re­turn­ing to his par­ish, find­ing com­fort on­ly in the cross of Je­sus Christ.

Discovering an im­pe­rfect ex­press­ion of his em­o­tions at that time in a hymn, O How Hap­py Are the Mo­ments, by the Rev. James Al­len, he adapt­ed and re­vised the hymn so com­plet­ely that it be­came prac­tic­al­ly a new com­po­si­tion, tru­ly po­et­ic in lang­uage and form, and ten­der­ly el­o­quent of his own ex­per­i­ence.

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Lyrics

Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross we spend,
Life and health and peace possessing
From the sinner’s dying Friend.

Here I stay, forever viewing
Mercy streaming in His blood;
Precious drops, my soul bedewing,
Plead and claim my peace with God.

Truly blessèd is the station,
Low before His cross to lie,
While I see divine compassion
Floating in His languid eye.

Here we find our hope of Heaven,
While upon the Lamb we gaze;
Loving much, and much forgiven,
Let our hearts o’erflow with praise.

Oh, that, near the cross abiding,
We may to the Savior cleave,
Naught with Him our hearts dividing,
All for Him content to leave!

Lord, in ceaseless contemplation
Fix our hearts and eyes on Thee,
Till we taste Thy full salvation,
And unveiled Thy glories see.

For Thy sorrows we adore Thee,
For the griefs that wrought our peace;
Gracious Savior, we implore Thee,
In our hearts Thy love increase.