Behold What Witnesses Unseen

Behold what witnesses unseen

Published in 14 hymnals

Representative Text

Behold what witnesses unseen
encompass us around;
Men, once like us, with suff’ring tried,
but now with glory crowned.

Let us, with zeal like theirs inspired,
begin the Christian race,
And, freed from each encumb’ring weight,
their holy footsteps trace.

Behold a witness nobler still,
who trod affliction’s path,
Jesus, at once the finisher
and author of our faith.

He for the joy before him set,
so gen’rous was his love,
Endured the cross, despised the shame,
and now he reigns above.

If he the scorn of wicked men
with patience did sustain,
Becomes it those for whom he died
to murmur or complain?

Have ye like him to blood, to death,
the cause of truth maintained?
And is your heav’nly Father’s voice
forgotten or disdained?

My son, saith he, with patient mind
endure the chast’ning rod;
Believe, when by afflictions tried,
that thou art loved by God.

His children thus most dear to him
their heav’nly Father trains,
Through all the hard experience led
of sorrows and of pains.

We know he owns us for his sons,
when we correction share;
Nor wander as a bastard race,
without our Father’s care.

A father’s voice with rev’rence we
on earth have often heard;
The Father of our spirits now
demands the same regard.

Parents may err; but he is wise,
nor lifts the rod in vain
His chast’nings serve to cure the soul
by salutary pain.

Affliction, when it spreads around,
may seem a field of woe;
Yet there, at last, the happy fruits
of righteousness shall grow.

Then let our hearts no more despond,
our hands be weak no more;
Still let us trust our Father’s love,
his wisdom still adore.

Scottish Psalms and Paraphrases

Text Information

First Line: Behold what witnesses unseen
Title: Behold What Witnesses Unseen


Behold what witnesses unseen. [Cross and Consolation.] First appeared as No. 12 in the Draft Scottish Translations and Paraphrases, 1745, as a version of Hebrews xii. 1-13, in 12 stanzas of 4 lines. The author is unknown. In the revised edition, issued in 1751, a new stanza was added as iii., and slight alterations were made in other stanzas. In the Draft of 1781, the 1751 was repeated with various alterations, as No. 59; and with further alterations of 16 lines, in the public worship edition issued in that year by the Church of Scotland, and still in use. In the markings by the eldest daughter of W. Cameron (q.v.), the alterations of 1781 are ascribed to Logan and Cameron. The text of 1781 has passed, in abridged forms, into a few modern hymnals, as Maurice's Choral Hymn Book, 1861, No. 209, omitting stanza ix.; and the English Presbyterian Psalms & Hymns, 1867; and Church Praise, 1883, reduced to 6 stanzas. In the American Prayer Book Collection, 1826, No. 212 (edition 1871, No. 183), and others it began, "Lo! what a cloud of witnesses;" while in Rorison's Hymns adapted to the Church Services, I860, it is, "A witness-host, by us unseen." In Anderson's Collection, Edinburgh, 1818, No. 359 begins with stanza vi. altered to, "Like Christ, have ye, to blood or death," and No. 360, with stanza x., "A father's voice, with reverence, we." It is included, considerably altered, as No. 85 in Miss Leeson's Paraphrases & Hymns, 1853, in three parts, pt. ii. beginning, "Lo! for the joy before Him set," and pt. iii., "Through all the hard experience led." [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

-- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



Instances (1 - 2 of 2)
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Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #743


Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise #743

Include 12 pre-1979 instances
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