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From Greenland's Icy Mountains

1. From Greenland's icy mountains, from India's coral strand;
Where Afric's sunny fountains roll down their golden sand:
From many an ancient river, from many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver their land from error's chain.

2. What though the spicy breezes blow soft o'er Ceylon's isle;
Though every prospect pleases, and only man is vile?
In vain with lavish kindness the gifts of God are strown;
The heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone.

3. Shall we, whose souls are lighted with wisdom from on high,
Shall we to those benighted the lamp of life deny?
Salvation! O salvation! The joyful sound proclaim,
Till earth's remotest nation has learned Messiah's Name.

4. Waft, waft, ye winds, His story, and you, ye waters, roll
Till, like a sea of glory, it spreads from pole to pole:
Till o'er our ransomed nature the Lamb for sinners slain,
Redeemer, King, Creator, in bliss returns to reign.

Lyrics: Reginald Heber
Music: Lowell Mason

Tune: MISSIONARY HYMN
Meter: 7.6.7.6.D.


From Greenland's Icy Mountains

Reginald Heber, 1783–1826

In the summer of 1819, Heber was asked by his father-in-law if he knew a worthy hymn that could be used at a missionary service the next Sunday. Reginald went at once to his study for a few minutes of quiet meditation and soon returned with the first stanzas of this text. His family was very pleased with it. Heber, however, feeling the hymn was still incomplete, returned to his study and completed the triumphant final verse.

Five years later the tune was composed specifically for Heber’s text by the noted American educator and church musician, Lowell Mason. It is said that Mason composed this tune with a great sense of inspiration.

Heber was a minister in the Anglican church in England. With his keen interest in world missions, he did much through his writings and influence to promote the missionary activity that greatly increased during his lifetime. As a result of his zeal for missions, he became an Anglican bishop to Calcutta, India, where he died at the age of forty-three.

Today, Reginald Heber is ranked as one of the foremost 19th century English hymnists, having written 57 well-known hymns, including “Holy, Holy, Holy.”