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Marvelous Grace

Full Text

1 Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.

2 Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
what can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
whiter than snow you may be today. [Refrain]

3 Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe:
you that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive? [Refrain]

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Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The Catechism says that those who know Christ’s forgiveness are “to thank God for such deliverance” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 2). As a result, “With our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us, and that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 32, Question and Answer 86).


Marvelous Grace


During his whole life on earth,
but especially at the end,
Christ sustained
in body and soul
the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.
This he did in order that,
by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,
he might deliver us, body and soul,
from eternal condemnation,
and gain for us God’s grace,
righteousness, and eternal life.
—Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 37
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Acclamation and Thanks for God’s Grace
Marvelous God, your grace for sinners is lavish. You have a fullness of grace, an overflow of grace, grace upon grace—all for us sinners. You are like a waiting father who runs to embrace his prodigal son. He had been prodigal in his spending, but you are prodigal in your grace. Truly there is none like you. And so we give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Marvelous Grace

Tune Information

G Major
Meter refrain



Marvelous Grace

Hymn Story/Background

The writer contrasts the theme of God’s abundant grace—manifest through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross—with “our sin and our guilt” (stanza one), “sin and despair” (stanza two), and a “dark . . . stain” (stanza three).

This “marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe,” finds a scriptural basis in Paul’s teaching of justification by faith in Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Paul continues in verses 14-16, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift of grace. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.”

The text and tune of the hymn first appeared in Hymns Tried and True, a 1911 collection by composer Daniel B. Towner.  Baptist hymnologist William J. Reynolds noted that the name MOODY was given to this tune in recognition of Towner’s association with and service to Moody Bible Institute and its founder. 
— Michael Hawn

Author Information

Julia Harriette Johnston (1849-1919) was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister who served First Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Ill. She lived in Peoria from age 6.

Johnston was faithful to the ministries of the church, serving as a Sunday school superintendent and teacher for 41 years. She was also president for two decades of the Presbyterian Missionary Society, an organization founded by her mother.

She authored several books including Indian and Spanish Neighbors (1905) and Fifty Missionary Heroes(1913). In addition to many Sunday school lessons, she also wrote about 500 hymn texts; today her reputation rests primarily upon the hymn “Grace Greater than Our Sin.”
— Michael Hawn

Composer Information

Daniel Brink Towner (1850-1919) was educated musically by his father and later trained by gospel musicians such as George Root and George Webb. He served as music director for the Centenary Methodist Church, Binghamton, New York (1870-1882), the York Street Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio (1882-1884), and briefly at the Union Methodist Church in Covington, Kentucky. In 1885 he joined Dwight L. Moody's evangelistic campaigns as a baritone soloist and choral conductor. From 1893 until his death he was head of the music department of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where he strongly influenced several generations of students. Towner com­piled fourteen hymn collections.
— Bert Polman
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