Immortal Honors


An encouraging trend in church music over the past 25 years has been the renewed interest in hymnody. Churches are again discovering the rich theological content and lasting value of what Basil Manly Jr. called “the old, precious, standard hymns.” Manly exhorted churches in his day:

“We cannot afford to lose these old hymns. They are full of the Gospel; they breathe the deepest emotions of pious hearts in the noblest strains of poetry; they have been tested and approved by successive generations of those that loved the Lord; they are the surviving fittest ones from thousands of inferior productions; they are hallowed by abundant usefulness and tenderest memories.” (from his preface to Manly’s Choice: A New Selection of Approved Hymns for Baptist Churches, 1891).

Gadsby HymnalOne treasure trove of such hymns is Gadsby’s Hymnal. William Gadsby was an English Baptist who served as pastor of Black Lane Chapel in Manchester from 1805 until his death in 1844. Along with being well known as a preacher, he was a gifted hymn writer and compiler or hymns. In 1814 he published A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship. The hymnal was expanded in 1838, and expanded again not long after Gadsby’s death by J. C. Philpot, a fellow pastor. The final edition contains 1156 hymns (lyrics only) including 173 by Gadsby. It is a rich resource of music useful for singing and reading in both gathered worship and private devotion.

You can download a free PDF of the entire collection of 1156 hymns from Grace eBooks.

Among William Gadsby’s finest contributions to the collection is the hymn “Immortal Honors.” It displays his skill as a songwriter as he weaves biblically sound theology into vibrant, warm, devotional praise. In four verses he celebrates the bountiful salvation we have in Christ and voices our desire to whole-heartedly submit our lives to His gracious rule and authority. The hymn (#667 in the Gadsby Hymnal) is also included in Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (#26) published by Founders Press.

Immortal Honors

Immortal honors rest on Jesus’ head
My God, my portion and my living Bread
In Him I live, upon Him cast my care
He saves from death, destruction and despair

He is my refuge in each deep distress
The Lord, my Strength and Glorious Righteousness
Through floods and flames He leads me safely on
And daily makes His sovereign goodness known

My every need He richly will supply
Nor will His mercy ever let me die
In Him there dwells a treasure all divine
And matchless grace has made that treasure mine

O that my soul could love and praise Him more
His beauties trace, His majesty adore
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean
Obey His voice and all His will esteem

“Immortal Honors” Words by William Gadsby (1838)
Music by Claude Goudimel (Genevan Psalter, 1551)
©Public Domain

Download a PDF of the sheet music for this hymn

Download a PDF of a guitar chart for this hymn

Download a PDF of the hymn tune TOULON arranged for classical guitar

More hymns arranged for Classical Guitar

—Ken Puls

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3 Responses to “Immortal Honors”

  1. What the old hymns need is new melodies, a bridge, to a simple chorus. Then you will catch the ears and hearts of the young. Most teenagers cannot read music but a good tune can catch the person. Jazz it up, rockit up, get rid of the thees and thous.

    • Ken Puls

      Thank you for your comments, Rich. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I am very much in favor of new settings and new tunes for the old hymns. You can read more of my thoughts here: How Should We Sing the Great Old Hymns of the Faith? But it is also of great benefit (for young and old alike) to sing the old hymns with the old tunes (and even the old language with its “Thee’s” and “Thou’s). Doing so reminds us that we are part of God’s wonderful and vast plan of redemption that spans well beyond what is happening in our own day. We join our voices with God’s people throughout history and add to the tapestry of His praise.


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