It is a Thing Most Wonderful

This hymn reflects on Jesus love and the cross from a child's point of view. It was written as a poem for children by English Anglican priest (later bishop) William Walsham How (1823-1897) while he was Rector of Whittington.

It is sometimes viewed as a hymn for Lent or Easter, or even Christmas - but it can be used at any time of the year.

The original version had five stanzas each with four lines. The two additional verses were added before it was next published in 1881. The first publication was in a book titled Children's Hymns which How published in 1872, and is associated with 1 John 4:10. Some later publications have presented it as eight-line verses.

With meter, hymn tunes it is set to include:
  • HERONGATE, an English folksong, collected by Ralph Vaughan-Williams in the early 1900s - and the most commonly used tune for the hymn
  • BROOKFIELD (Southgate) by Thomas B. Southgate (1855)
  • GIDEON by J B Southgate (1814-68)

The text has also been used as the basis for a number of anthems and choral settings, as well as some contemporary musicals and songs.


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Massed choir with organ, TV show recording, tune HERONGATE

Contemporary version, singer with piano-led band - original tune

Choir with organ, professional recording, tune HERONGATE 

Singer with piano-led band, unnamed tune from the musical Torn Curtain by Roger Jones:

Instrumental - guitar and flute. Tune HERONGATE

Instrumentalal - organ. Tune BROOKFIELD

Instrumental, organ. Tune HERONGATE


1  It is a thing most wonderful,
almost too wonderful to be,
that God's own Son should come from heav'n,
and die to save a child like me.

2 And yet I know that it is true:
He chose a poor and humble lot,
and wept and toiled and mourned and died
for love of those who loved Him not.

3 I cannot tell how He could love
a child so weak and full of sin;
His love must be most wonderful
if He could die my love to win.

4 I sometimes think about the cross,
and shut my eyes, and try to see
the cruel nails and crown of thorns,
and Jesus crucified for me.

5 But even could I see Him die,
I could but see a little part
of that great love which, like a fire,
is always burning in His heart.

6 It is most wonderful to know
His love for me so free and sure;
but 'tis more wonderful to see
my love for Him so faint and poor.

7 And yet I want to love Thee, Lord;
O light the flame within my heart,
and I will love Thee more and more,
until I see Thee as Thou art.

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