Great God, the nations of the earth. T. Gibbons. [Missions.] This poem was first published in his Hymns adapted to Divine Worship, &c, 1769, Book ii., No. 69, in 46 stanzas of 4 lines, divided into 7 parts, and headed, "The universal diffusion of the Gospel promised by God and pleaded by His people." The 7 parts are:—
i. "Great God, the nations of the earth," in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. ii. “0 when shall Afric's sable sons ?" in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. iii. "Father, is not Thy promise pledged?" in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. iv. "When Jesus shall ascend His throne," in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. v. "When Christ assumes His throne, this song," in 8 stanzas of 4 lines. vi. "When Christ is throned on Zion's hill," in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. vii. "The seed in scanty handfuls sown," in 1 stanza of 4 lines.
From this poem tho following hymns and centos have come into common use:—
1. Great God, the nations of the earth. This was given in Rippon's Baptist Selection, 1787, No. 420, in 7 stanzas. In the edition of 1800 it was increased to 16 stanzas, of which viii.-x. were not by Gibbons, and their presence is explained in a note which reads:—"Verses 8, 9, and 10 of this hymn, in substance, were written off Margate, by Mr. William Ward, one of the Baptist Missionaries, on their departure for India, May 28, 1799." It is the first part of this arrangement of the hymn which is usually in common use.
2. Great God, is not Thy promise pledged? This is composed of stanza i. and v. of Pt. iii. It is in common use in America.
3. Lord, send Thy word, and let it fly. This is compiled from Pts. ii., iv. and vii. (stanzas 13, 14, 24, 26, and 46 of Gibbons's numbering), with slight alteration, and is in American common use, as Hatfleld's Church Hymn Book, 1872, No. 1236.
4. Father, is not Thy promise pledged? Included in Rippon's Selection, 1787, No. 419, and again in later editions, and in other collections. [William T. Brooke]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)