How few receive with cordial faith
the tidings which we bring?
How few have seen the arm revealed
of heav’n’s eternal King?
The Saviour comes! no outward pomp
bespeaks his presence nigh;
No earthly beauty shines in him
to draw the carnal eye.
Fair as a beauteous tender flow’r
amidst the desert grows,
So slighted by a rebel race
the heav’nly Saviour rose.
Rejected and despised of men,
behold a man of woe!
Grief was his close companion still
through all his life below.
Yet all the griefs he felt were ours,
ours were the woes he bore:
Pangs, not his own, his spotless soul
with bitter anguish tore.
We held him as condemned by Heav’n,
an outcast from his God,
While for our sins he groaned, he bled,
beneath his Father’s rod.
His sacred blood hath washed our souls
from sin’s polluted stain;
His stripes es have healed us, and his death
revived our souls again.
We all, like sheep, had gone astray
in ruin’s fatal road:
On him were our transgressions laid;
he bore the mighty load.
Wronged and oppressed how meekly he
in patient silence stood!
Mute, as the peaceful harmless lamb,
when brought to shed its blood.
Who can his generation tell?
from prison see him led!
With impious show of law condemned,
and numbered with the dead.
’Midst sinners low in dust he lay;
the rich a grave supplied:
Unspotted was his blameless life;
unstained by sin he died.
Yet God shall raise his head on high,
though thus he brought him low;
His sacred off’ring, when complete,
shall terminate his woe.
For, saith the Lord, my pleasure then
shall prosper in his hand;
His shall a num’rous offspring be,
and still his honours stand.
His soul, rejoicing, shall behold
the purchase of his pain;
And all the guilty whom he saved
shall bless Messiah’s reign.
He with the great shall share the spoil,
and baffle all his foes;
Though ranked with sinners, here he fell,
a conqueror he rose.
He died to bear the guilt of men,
that sin might be forgiv’n:
He lives to bless them and defend,
and plead their cause in heav’n.
How few receive with cordial faith. W. Robertson. [Passiontide.] First appeared as No. 6 in the Draft Scottish Translations & Paraphrases, 1745, as a version of Is. liii. in 16 stanzas of 4 lines. In the revised edition, 1751, stanzas viii., x., xii. were slightly altered. In the Draft of 1781, No. 25, it was considerably altered; and with further alterations this was repeated in the public worship edition of that year which is still in common use in the Church of Scotland. In the markings by the eldest daughter of W. Cameron (q.v.), the original is ascribed to W. Robertson, and the alterations in 1781 to John Logan. The revised text of 1781 is included in full in the English Presbyterian Psalms & Hymns, 1867, as two hymns, No. 170 beginning as, above, and 171 as "We all like sheep have gone astray." In addition the following centos are in common use:—
1. The Saviour comes [came], no outward pomp. In Murray’s Hymnal, 1852; the Baptist Psalms & Hymns, 1858; Kennedy, 1863, and others in Great Britain and America.
2. Rejected and despised of men. In the Andover Sabbath Hymn Book, 1858, &c.
3. Fair as a beauteous, tender flower. In Hymns from the Parish Choir, 1854.
In addition, Miss Leeson published an altered form of the hymn in 9 stanzas in her Paraphrases & Hymns for Congregational Singing, 1853, as pt. i.," Who hath believed the Witness-Word?"; and pt. ii., "We counted as condemned of heaven." Compare also Watts's Hymns, 1709, Book i., Nos. 141-2. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)