I Cannot Tell (why he whom angels worship)

This hymn is a reflection on Jesus birth, death, resurrection and coming-again. 

The words were written by Irish-born Baptist evangelist, administrator and writer, William Young Fullerton (1857 - 1932).

Fullerton set the text to be sung to the traditional Irish tune LONDONDERRY AIR - better known as the tune of "Danny Boy".


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Small group with piano, recorded during a church service, with on-screen words:

Solo singer with guitar, professional recording:

Massed choir with piano and brass ensemble:

British worship programme, organ accompaniment:


I cannot tell why He whom angels worship,
Should stoop to love the peoples of the earth,
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers,
With his mysterious promise of new birth.
But this I know, that He was born of Mary
When Bethlehem’s manger was His only home,
And that He lived at Nazareth and laboured,
And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world is come.

I cannot tell how silently he suffered,
As with his peace he graced this place of tears,
Or how his heart upon the cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, he heals the broken-hearted,
And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is here.

I cannot tell how he will win the nations,
How he will claim his earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of east and west, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see his glory,
And he shall reap the harvest he has sown,
And some glad day his sun shall shine in splendour
When he the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
When, at his bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When every heart with perfect love is filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to heaven, and heaven to earth, will answer:
'At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King!'

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