So far in 2022, 11 million people from 200-plus countries around the world have benefitted from the Hymnary website! Thank you to all who use and all who support it with gifts of time, talent and treasure. If you feel moved to support our work today with a gift of any amount and a word of encouragement, we would be grateful. You can donate online at our secure giving site. Or, if you'd like to make a gift by check, please send it to:, Calvin University, 3201 Burton Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. May the hope, love, joy and peace of Advent be yours this day and always.

374. O Holy City, Seen of John

You can view this hymn by purchasing an instrument edition of the hymnal in our Glory to God mobile app.

Download on the App Store
Get it on Google Play

Due to copyright restrictions, we cannot display this hymn on our website or provide printable copies of it.

1 O holy city, seen of John,
where Christ, the Lamb, does reign,
within whose four-square walls shall come
no night, nor need, nor pain,
and where the tears are wiped from eyes
that shall not weep again!

2 O shame to us who rest content
while lust and greed for gain
in street and shop and tenement
wring gold from human pain,
and bitter lips in deep despair
cry, "Christ has died in vain!"

3 Give us, O God, the strength to build
the city that has stood
too long a dream; whose laws are love,
whose ways are servant-hood,
and where the sun that shines becomes
your grace for human good.

4 Already in the mind of God
that city rises fair.
Lo, how its splendor challenges
the souls that greatly dare,
and bids us seize the whole of life
and build its glory there.

Text Information
First Line: O holy city, seen of John
Title: O Holy City, Seen of John
Author: Walter Russell Bowie (1909, alt.)
Language: English
Publication Date: 2013
Scripture: ; ; ; ;
Topic: Kingdom of God; A New Heaven and a New Earth; Social Concerns
Tune Information
Harmonizer: C. Winfred Douglas (1940)
Key: f minor
Source: Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music, 1813
Copyright: Harm. © 1943, 1961, 1985 Church Pension Fund
Notes: alternate harmonization, 653

Text Information:

Unlike texts that treat the heavenly Jerusalem as a goal for the life to come, this hymn regards John’s vision 
as a challenge to work here and now for the accomplishment of God’s purposes on earth. The shape note 
tune provides an effective setting for this stirring text.

Audio recording: Audio (MP3)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us


It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support