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Longing after God; or The Love of God Better than Life

Representative Text

Great God, indulge my heartfelt claim:
be now my hope, my joy, my rest;
the glories that compose your name
shall all engage to make me blest.
O great and good, O just and wise,
my Father, my all-loving God!
And I am yours by sacred ties;
an heir, a servant of your word.

With heart, and eyes, and lifted hands,
I long for you, to you I look,
as travelers, in earth’s thirsty lands,
yearn for a cooling water-brook.
With eager feet I would appear
among your saints, to seek your face;
for I have seen your glory there,
and felt the power of sovereign grace.

Amid the wakeful hours of night,
when busy cares afflict my head,
one thought of you gives new delight,
and adds great comfort to my bed.
I'll lift my hands, I'll raise my voice,
while I have breath to pray or praise;
this work shall make my heart rejoice
for all the hours of all my days.

Source: In Melody and Songs: hymns from the Psalm versions of Isaac Watts #25

Author: Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was the son of a schoolmaster, and was born in Southampton, July 17, 1674. He is said to have shown remarkable precocity in childhood, beginning the study of Latin, in his fourth year, and writing respectable verses at the age of seven. At the age of sixteen, he went to London to study in the Academy of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, an Independent minister. In 1698, he became assistant minister of the Independent Church, Berry St., London. In 1702, he became pastor. In 1712, he accepted an invitation to visit Sir Thomas Abney, at his residence of Abney Park, and at Sir Thomas' pressing request, made it his home for the remainder of his life. It was a residence most favourable for his health, and for the prosecution of his literary… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Great God, indulge my humble claim
Title: Longing after God; or The Love of God Better than Life
Author: Isaac Watts
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Great God, indulge my humble claim. I. Watts. [Psalm lxiii.] First published in his Psalms of David, &c, 1719 in 8 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "Longing after God; or, The Love of God better than life." In modern hymn-books it is given as follows:—
1. The original text in full in a limited number of collections.
2. The cento given in some of the Methodist hymn-books. This is composed of stanzas i.-iii., vi., viii. These stanzas, much altered, were given in J. Wesley's Psalms & Hymns, 1741, and later editions. They were again altered, and in this last revised form were included in the Supplement to the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1830, as No. 597 (revised edition 1875, No. 577).
3. Centos of various lengths from the original, all beginning with stanza i.
4. The cento, No. 83, in the New Congregational Hymn Book, 1859: "Great God, permit my humble claim."
In one or more of these various forms this hymn is in common use in all English-speaking countries.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



The Cyber Hymnal #2021
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  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
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Instances (1 - 4 of 4)

Church Hymnal, Mennonite #11


In Melody and Songs #25


The Cyber Hymnal #2021

The Harmonia Sacra #74B

Include 264 pre-1979 instances
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