Music for Pentecost 5 — Sunday July 10 2022

King of Glory, King of Peace – Text: George Herbert (1593-1633) / Music: Joseph David Jones (1827-1870)

View video here

“The model of a man, a gentleman, and a clergyman.” So wrote Samuel Coleridge of George Herbert (1593-1633), and well he might, for Herbert ranks among the finest poets of the 17th century. Of Herbert, the English Puritan church leader, poet, hymnodist and theologian Richard Baxter said, “He speaks to God like one that really believeth in God, and whose business in this world is most with God.” That expresses the direction of faith and trust one finds in the exquisitely beautiful lyric of King of glory, King of peace, our final hymn in church this Sunday, written by one who never considered that he was writing a hymn. The poem was printed posthumously in Herbert’s The Temple 1633 and headed simply “Praise.”

A tune to which this hymn is often set is Gwalchmai, the one with which it is paired in our hymn books. The tune is named for the Welsh bard who flourished c. 1150-90, and who is known chiefly by his spring song, “Gorhoffedd” (boasting). The composer of this tune, Joseph David Jones, was born at Bryngrygog in Montgomery, Wales, in 1827. His parents were so poor that they could only give him one year at school, and this he spent largely in learning all that he could about music. In 1847 some of his psalm tunes were published. The profits from this publication helped him to secure further training in London, and throughout Wales he gained great popularity as a composer, educator, and hymnal editor, until his death in 1870.

King of glory, King of peace,
I will love Thee;
and that love may never cease,
I will move Thee.
Thou hast granted my request,
Thou hast heard me;
Thou didst note my working breast,
Thou hast spared me.

Wherefore with my utmost art
I will sing Thee,
and the cream of all my heart
I will bring Thee.
Though my sins against me cried,
Thou didst clear me;
and alone, when they replied,
Thou didst hear me.


Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise Thee;

in my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise Thee.
Small it is, in this poor sort
to enroll Thee:
even eternity’s too short
to extol Thee.

Gerald Harder