The original six verses were written by Matthew Bridges, a Catholic, who based the song on Revelation 19:12: “His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself.”
Godfrey Thring, an Anglican clergyman, wrote six new verses for fear that a Catholic hymn was becoming too popular among the Anglican church and teaching its congregants bad theology.
Today we sing a mix of all twelve verses, depending on what hymnal you’re looking at. What was done as a means of dividing the church, actually united it, creating a hymn for both Protestants and Catholics. In this way, we are practicing what we sing: Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
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