Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken

This is joyful hymn of praise.

It was written by English-born, slave-ship captain turned evangelical Anglican priest John Newton (1725-1807). It is based on Psalm 87:3 and Isaiah 33:20–21.

The hymn was originally published in 1779, in Olney Hymns, a collection of hymns for public worship by Newton and his and friend, William Cowper.

With meter of 87 87 D, tunes that it has been set to include:
  • AUSTRIA, composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) in 1797:  This is the original and most commonly published setting, but its German associations have led to some controversy.
  • JEFFERSON, composed by  Alexander Johnson in 1818, and usually used when the hymn is included in shape-note hymnals
  • ABBOTTS LEIGH, composed by Cyril Vincent Taylor in 1942 in response to complaints about singing the hymn to a German tune.


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Small group with piano and brass, tune AUSTRIA

Large choir with organ, tune AUSTRIA

Choir with organ at a televised royal wwedding, tune ABBOTTS LEIGH

Choir and congregation with organ, recorded live at a church service, tune ABBOTTS LEIGH

Guitar instrumental, tune AUSTRIA

Contemporary worship band, tune AUSTRIA

Unaccompanied shape-note singers, tune JEFFERSON 


Traditional language

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

See! the streams of living waters,
spring form eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint, when such a river
ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the Giver,
never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hovering,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a covering,
showing that the Lord is near.
Thus they march, their pillar leading,
light by night, and shade by day;
daily on the manna feeding
which he gives them when they pray.

Blest inhabitants of Zion,
washed in the Redeemer's blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
makes them kings and priests to God.
'Tis his love his people raises
over self to reign as kings:
and as priests, his solemn praises
each for a thank-offering brings.

(This verse is not used in some denominations)
Saviour, if of Zion's city,
I through grace a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy Name.
Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion's children know.

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