There's a Wideness in God's Mercy (Souls of men, why will ye scatter)

This is a hymn about God's mercy.

The words were written by English minister Frederick William Faber (1814-1863).  It is popular during Lent, but appropriate in other seasons as as well.

The hymn was first published in 1854, as eight 4-line stanzas under the title “Come to Jesus”. A later collection featured it with 13 stanzas, beginning with “Souls of men, why will ye scatter?".

There appears to be very little agreement among editors since which stanzas to include - or how to combine them in the case of 87.87 D tunes.   Some have suggested that dropping the original verses about the Divine Call fixes flaws in the original hymn creates a good hymn which is focused on mercy and forgiveness (ref).

To add to the confusion, the the text has also been set to very many different tunes.   With meter of 87.87 or (ie an even number of stanza-pairs), these include:
  • IN BABILONE (A Dutch tune by Julius Röntgen, 1906) - quite common today, sheet music below
  • WELLESLEY (Lissie S Tourjee, 1877) - historically this appears to have been used most often, although perhaps not so common today.
  • CROSS OF JESUS (Stainer)  - John Stainer (1887)
  • ST MABYN (Arthur H. Brown, 1830-1926)
  • ST HELENA (Calvin Hampton)
  • THEOPHILUS (G C Stanger, 1918)
  • LORD REVIVE US (North American, 19th century)
  • ARMSTRONG (Richards), Henry B. Richards (1817-1889)
  • BEECHER, John Zundel, 1870
  • ERIE, Charles C. Converse, 1868
  • STUTTGART BY Christian F. Witt, 1715 
  • BEACH SPRING by Benjamin F. White (1844, published in Sacred Harp)
  • CORVEDALE (Maurice Bevan, 1921-)
  • DAILY DAILY (from the "Paderborn Gesangbuch", 1765)
  • AVERGAVENNY (Henry R Gaida, 1987-)
  • DEAN STREET - Geoffrey Beaumont, in his 20th Century Folk Mass



Large choir with organ and brass - TV show recording:

Congregation with organ:

Cantor and congregation with organ:

Folk-rock style, composer with band:


There's a wideness in God's mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea.
There's a kindness in God's justice,
Which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
Are more felt than up in heaven.
There is no place where earth's failings
Have such kindly judgement given.

There's a welcome for the sinner
And more graces for the good.
There is mercy with the Saviour
There is healing in his blood.
There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed.
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measures of the mind.
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
We would gladly trust God's Word,
And our lives reflect thanksgiving
For the goodness of our Lord.

There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.
Pining souls! come nearer Jesus,
And oh! come not doubting thus.
But with faith that trusts more bravely
His huge tenderness for us.

‘Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
It is something more than all;
Greater good because of evil,
Larger mercy through the fall.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would all be sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

Added after the first publication - sometimes used as the first verse:
Souls of men, why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts, why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?
Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Saviour who would have us
Come and gather round His feet?

ABC Notation

Ref:  What is ABC

T: There's a Wideness in God's Mercy
C: Words: Frederick W Faber (1814-1863)
C: Music: Benjamin F. White (1844, Sacred Harp)
O: England
Z:abc-transcription ,
M: 3/2
L: 1/4
"F"FF | "C"G2 "F"F2 AA | "Dm"(GF) D2 FF |
w: 1~~~There's a wide-ness in God's mer_cy, Like the
w: 2~~~There's a wel-come for the sinn_er, and more
w: 3~~~For the love of God is broad_er than the
"Bb"D2 "C"C2 "Bb"DF | "F"F4 FF | "C"G2 "F"F2 AA |
w:1~~~wide-ness of the sea. There's a kind-ness in God's
w:2~~~graces_ for the good. There is mer-cy with the
w:3~~~measures_ of the mind. And the heart of the E-
"Dm"(GF) D2 FF | "Bb"D2 "C"C2 "Bb"DF |
w:1~~~jus_tice, which is more than lib-er-
w:2~~~Sav_iour, there is heal-ing in his
w:3~~~ter_nal is most won-der-ful-ly
"F"F4 FA | "Am"c2 c2 dc | "Dm"A2 F2 FA |
w:1~~~ty. There is no place where earth's sorr-ows are more
w:2~~~blood. There is plenti_ful re-demp-tion, in the
w:3~~~kind. If our love were but more faith-ful, we would
"F"c2 F2 (A/G/)F | "Bb"D4 dc | "F"A2 F2 AA |
w:1~~~felt than up in hea-ven. There is no place where earth's
w:2~~~blood that has_ been shed. There is joy for all the
w:3~~~glad-ly trust_ God's Word, and our lives re-flect thanks-
"Dm"(GF) D2 FF | "Bb"D2 "C"C2 "Bb"DF | "F"F4 |]
w:1~~~fail_ings have such kind-ly judge-ment given.
w:2~~~mem_bers in the sor-rows of the Head.
w:3~~~giv_ing for the good-ness of our Lord.

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