499. My God, How Wonderful You Are

1 My God, how wonderful you are;
your majesty, how bright!
How beautiful your mercy seat
in depths of burning light!

2 How wonderful, how beautiful
the sight of you must be,
your endless wisdom, boundless power,
and awesome purity!

3 O how I fear you, living God,
with deepest, tenderest fears,
and worship you with trembling hope
and penitential tears!

4 Yet I may love you too, O Lord,
almighty as you are,
for you have stooped to ask of me
the love of my poor heart.

5 No earthly father loves like you,
no mother half so mild
bears and forbears as you have done
with me, your sinful child.

6 Father of Jesus, Love divine,
great King upon your throne,
what joy to see you as you are
and worship you alone!

Text Information
First Line: My God, how wonderful you are
Title: My God, How Wonderful You Are
Author: Frederick W. Faber (1849, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: CM
Scripture: Psalm 113:5-6; Psalm 103:13-18
Topic: Love: God's Love to Us; Redemption
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: ST. ETHELDREDA
Composer: Thomas Turton (1860)
Meter: CM
Key: E♭ Major


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 113:5
st. 5 = Ps. 103:13

Frederick W. Faber (b. Calverly, Yorkshire, England, 1814; d. Kensington, London, England, 1863) wrote "My God, how wonderful thou art," a hymn published in his Jesus and Mary; or Catholic Hymns (1849). Of the original nine stanzas, 1, 3-5, 7, and 9 are included in modernized form.

Presenting a magnificent view of God, this text is particularly appropriate for the late twentieth century, a time in which humankind has lost its sense of wonder. As we sing, we contemplate the glory and majesty of God (st. 1-2), which in turn inspires our holy fear, penitence, and love (st. 3-4). The text alludes to Psalm 103:13 (st. 5) and gives us an apocalyptic vision of worshiping God face to face (st. 6).

Raised in the Church of England, Faber came from a Huguenot and strict Calvinistic family background. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and ordained in the Church of England in 1839. Influenced by the teaching of John Henry Newman, Faber followed Newman into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 and served under Newman's supervision in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Because he believed that Roman Catholics should sing hymns like those written by John Newton (PHH 462), Charles Wesley (PHH 267), and William Cowper (PHH 434), Faber wrote 150 hymns himself. One of his best known, "Faith of Our Fathers," originally had these words in its third stanza: "Faith of Our Fathers! Mary's prayers/Shall win our country back to thee." He published his hymns in various volumes and finally collected all of them in Hymns (1862).

Liturgical Use:
As a hymn of adoration at the beginning of worship, or as a response after preaching.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Thomas Turton (b. Hatfield, Yorkshire, England, 1780; d. Westminster, Middlesex, England, 1864) composed ST. ETHELDREDA in 1860; it was published in James Turle's Psalms and Hymns for Public Worship (1863). Educated at Catharine Hall, Cambridge, England, Turton became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge in 1822 and five years later a professor of divinity at the same school. In 1830 he left Cambridge to become Dean of Peter borough. He also served as Dean of Westminster (1842-1845) and as Bishop of Ely from 1845 until his death. Turton wrote many polemical tracts and composed some church music.

This simple but charming tune is in the style of the older English psalm tunes. Sing much of the hymn in harmony, possibly with some antiphonal stanzas, but sing stanza 7 in unison. The singing and its accompaniment should contribute to the sense of awe inherent in the text.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


Media
MIDI file: MIDI
MIDI file: MIDI Preview(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
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