top of page

HYMN FOR LENT 4 To God be the Glory

Text: Fanny Crosby  (1820-1915)  Tune: William H. Doane (1832-1915)

Andraé Crouch (1942-2015)

Jesus and Nicodemus by Crijn Hendricksz Volmarijn

1 To God be the glory - great things He hath done!

So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,

Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,

And opened the life-gate that all may go in.


Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!

O come to the Father, through Jesus, the Son,

and give Him the glory - great things He hath done.

2 O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!

To ev'ry believer the promise of God;

The vilest offender who truly believes,

That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.


3 Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,

And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;

But purer and higher and greater will be

Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.




Jesus and Nicodemus Henry Ossaw Tanner

The lesson for the fourth Sunday in Lent Series B is the sermon Jesus preaches to Nicodemus after their conversation. It includes the Gospel in a verse, John 3:16, the heart of the gospel. The richness of it makes it impossible to mine completely. It keeps going deeper and deepr into our minds as we contemplate what kind of love this is. It is the first use of the word love in the Gospel of John, and it describes a love that is unfathomable. Some scholars hear in this verse an echo from the Abraham and Isaac story, where Abraham’s love for his Son and God is tested. The entire Old Testament opposes the sacrifice of children to please God and only shows, for example, the death of Jeptha to show how awful it is for parents to sacrifice children.

Jesus and Nicodemus Christus und Nicodemus, by Fritz von Uhde (1848–1911)

But in this echo, we also hear that God the Father, in ending such sacrifices, actually will sacrifice his own Son to end the practice once and for all. This upsets many who think God could have found other ways to save us. We might think so, but God’s ways are not our ways. God is holy and just. After the fall, and the breaking of the relationship between humanity and God, something must make it right. We cannot. Only God can make things right and he does. It is something like an economic transaction—a debt needs to be paid. And we cannot pay it. A theologian I know says that most of us think saying economic means that it is not fundamental, but she argues that is to completely misunderstand the fundamental nature of trade and economics to our lives. To owe someone means an almost unendurable shame until the debt is paid in full. This is what Jesus tells Nicodemus that God is doing for him. As Crosby writes, “perfect redemption.” We sometimes theologize that word so much we forget it is fundamentally economic. God redeems us from sin, that means he pays for our ransom to free us from our slavery to a power that does not love us. “The purchase of blood!”  To God be the Glory!



Fanny Crosby, blind from birth, learned much of the Bible by heart when she was a child.

Those who raised her did not coddle her and expected her to do well at whatever she attempted. She began writing verse, but then the story goes she heard Jenny Lind singing to the students in the school for the blind where taught and realized the power of hymns and began writing them.

She wrote thousands of hymns. We have no idea how many since she used many pseudonyms not all of which we know. Gospel composers begged her for texts. She often had two or three assistants writing down hymns that she dictated to them, keeping the various texts going as she created them in her mind. She was famous, and was said to have met every President of the US from Abraham Lincoln to William Howard Taft. Crosby wrote this text in 1872, and it was set a few years later by William H. Doane. (See Hymn 81) The song was included in songbooks but did not achieve great popularity until 1954 when the Billy Graham Association was urged to use it for the London Crusade. They did and it became a hit. One can hear it being sung by congregations all over the world in its original form.

Andraé Crouch

Andraé Crouch knew the Crosby hymn well, but he used it to make a new song, keeping the words and some of the original melody. It became a phenomenal hit, something of his standard signature song that people expected him to sing at every concert.


Royal Albert Hall and Orchestra/the original Crosby and Doane version. Are they ever having fun!


Andraé Crouch version


Sissel, the Oslo gospel Choir and Andraé Crouch’s version


Another Sissel


 NB: Here is the link to my latest book. It would help me a lot if more than 50 were pre-sold by March 15 at a lower price. Thank you!





82 views0 comments


bottom of page