[I love to tell the story] (Fischer)

Composer: W. G. Fischer

William Gustavus Fischer (1835-1912) Born: Oc­to­ber 14, 1835, Bal­ti­more, Mary­land. Died: Au­gust 13, 1912, Phil­a­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia. Son of a German im­mi­grant, Fischer showed mu­sic­al abil­i­ty at an ear­ly age. When he was eight years old, he be­gan sing­ing in a Ger­man church in Bal­t­imore. He learned to read mu­sic in a church sing­ing class, and af­ter­wards stu­died pi­ano and or­gan. He learned book­bind­ing at J. B. Lip­pin­cott’s in Phil­a­delphia, Penn­syl­van­ia, but spent his even­ings stu­dy­ing and prac­tic­ing mu­sic. He was an ex­per­i­enced train­er and lead­er of large bo­dies of sing­ers of all ages, and was much sought af­ter to lead choirs an… Go to person page >

Tune Information

Composer: W. G. Fischer (1869)
Meter: D with refrain
Incipit: 5U1D5 5U13( 2)111 D62
Key: A♭ Major
Copyright: Public Domain


I Love to Tell the Story

I love to tell the story
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story,
Because I know its true;
It satisfies my longings
As nothing else would do.
I love to tell the story,
'Twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.

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HANKEY has many characteristics of a gospel song: stepwise melodic motion, verse refrain form, and simple harmony. After hearing both hymn texts from Hankey's poems quoted by one of the speakers at an 1867 YMCA convention in Montreal, Quebec, gospel hymn writer William H. Doane (PHH 473) was inspired to set both texts to music. However, Doane's tune for "I Love to Tell the Story" was soon replaced by the tune HANKEY by William G. Fischer, who also added a refrain to the original text. The tune set to Hankey's text was published in Joyful Songs (1869) and in many gospel hymnals. The hymn was popularized through its use in the Ira D. Sankey (PHH 73) and Dwight L. Moody crusades.

In his youth, Fischer (b. Baltimore, MD, 1835; d. Philadelphia, PA, 1912) developed an interest in music while attending singing schools. His career included working in the book bindery of J. B. Lippencott Publishing Company, teaching music at Girard College, and co-owning a piano business and music store–all in Philadelphia. Fischer eventually became a popular director of music at revival meetings and choral festivals. In 1876 he conducted a thousand-voice choir at the Dwight L. Moody/Ira D. Sankey revival meeting in Philadelphia. Fischer composed some two hundred tunes for Sunday school hymns and gospel songs.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988


Baptist Hymnal 1991 #572
Text: I Love to Tell the Story
Christian Classics Ethereal Hymnary #461
  • Four-part harmony, full-score (PDF, NWC)
The Cyber Hymnal #2914
Text: I Love to Tell the Story
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #530
Text: I Love to Tell the Story
Timeless Truths #743
Text: I Love to Tell the Story
The United Methodist Hymnal #156
Text: I Love to Tell the Story
Worship and Rejoice #560
Text: I Love to Tell the Story


Instances (32)TextImageAudioScoreFlexscore
African American Heritage Hymnal #513TextImage
Ambassador Hymnal: for Lutheran worship #304
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #572TextImageAudioScore
Baptist Hymnal 2008 #626TextImageFlexscore
Celebrating Grace Hymnal #581TextImage
Chalice Hymnal #480TextImage
Christian Classics Ethereal Hymnary #461AudioScore
Christian Worship: a Lutheran hymnal #562TextImage
Evangelical Lutheran Worship #661TextImage
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #462TextImageAudioFlexscore
Hymns of Faith #190TextImage
Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #501
Lift Every Voice and Sing II: an African American hymnal #64TextImage
Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #262TextImageAudioFlexscore
Moravian Book of Worship #625TextImage
Praise! Our Songs and Hymns #516Image
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #530TextImageAudioScore
Rejoice Hymns #650
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #457
Sing Joyfully #322TextImage
Sing With Me #240TextImage
Soul-stirring Songs & Hymns (Rev. ed.) #228
The Celebration Hymnal: songs and hymns for worship #444TextImage
The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #681
The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #297TextImage
The New Century Hymnal #522TextImage
The United Methodist Hymnal #156TextImageAudioScoreFlexscore
The Worshiping Church #498TextImageFlexscore
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #478TextImageFlexscore
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #343TextImage
Worship and Rejoice #560TextImageAudioScore
Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #99Text