It is a thing most wonderful

A hymn to sing along with…

The words were written by Revd William Walsham How (1823-1897). He was born at Shrewsbury and baptised at St Chad’s in that town (as was the Webmaster). He was ordained in 1846. He was Rector of Whittington, Shropshire for about twenty years and went on to be the first Bishop of Wakefield. He was particularly fond of children, and was commonly called the children’s bishop. His other hymns include For all the Saints.

The tune is Herongate, another English folk-song tune collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams. As noted earlier RVW wanted to preserve the tunes and wasn’t bothered if the traditional words were not very hymn-like.

The original first verse was:

In Jessie’s city, Oh there did dwell
a postman boy I loved so well.
Twas he that stole my heart away
and now with me he will not stay

It did not end well. The last verse of the song begins
“Go dig my grave both long and deep…”


It is a thing most wonderful,
almost too wonderful to be,
that God’s own Son should come from heaven,
and die to save a child like me.

And yet I know that it is true:
He chose a poor and humble lot,
and wept and toiled and mourned and died,
for love of those who loved Him not.

I cannot tell how He could love
a child so weak and full of sin;
His love must be most wonderful
if He could die my love to win.

I sometimes think about the cross,
and shut my eyes and try to see
the cruel nails and crown of thorns,
and Jesus crucified for me.

But even could I see Him die,
I could but see a little part
of that great love which, like a fire,
is always burning in His heart.

It is most wonderful to know
His love for me so free and sure;
but ’tis more wonderful to see
my love for Him so faint and poor.

And yet I want to love Thee, Lord;
O light the flame within my heart,
and I will love Thee more and more,
until I see Thee as Thou art.