If I Speak a Foreign Tongue

If I speak a foreign tongue

Versifier: Bertus Frederick Polman (1986)
Published in 3 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, MusicXML
Audio files: MIDI
Representative text cannot be shown for this hymn due to copyright.

Versifier: Bertus Frederick Polman

Bert Frederick Polman (b. Rozenburg, Zuid Holland, the Netherlands, 1945; d. Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 1, 2013) was chair of the Music Department at Calvin College and senior research fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Dr. Bert studied at Dordt College (BA 1968), the University of Minnesota (MA 1969, PhD in musicology 1981), and the Institute for Christian Studies. Dr. Bert was a longtime is professor of music at Redeemer College in Ancaster, Ontario, and organist at Bethel Christian Reformed Church, Waterdown, Ontario. His teaching covered a wide range of courses in music theory, music history, music literature, and worship, and Canadian Native studies. His research specialty was Christian hymnody. He was also an orga… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: If I speak a foreign tongue
Title: If I Speak a Foreign Tongue
Versifier: Bertus Frederick Polman (1986)
Language: English
Copyright: © 1987, CRC Publications/Faith Alive Christian Resources


Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 Cor. 13:1
st. 2 = 1 Cor. 13:2
st. 3 = 1 Cor. 13:3
st. 4 = 1 Cor. 13:4
st. 5 = 1 Cor. 13:8, 13

"If I Speak" is a paraphrase of the Bible's famous chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13. After discussing various spiritual gifts and their use in the Christian community (chap. 12), the apostle Paul turns to describe "the most excellent way"–the way of love. Love is the most profound fruit of the Holy Spirit, and it should characterize every facet of the Christian life. Using metaphor, hyperbole, and both positive and negative description, Paul describes this kind of agape love in a succinct and beautiful chapter.

Bert Polman (PHH 37) paraphrased parts of the chapter for a Pentecost hymn festival at Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, Rexdale, Ontario, in 1986. Polman began by revising Christopher Wordsworth's hymn on the same text, "Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost," published in Wordsworth's The Holy Year (1862), but ended up with this new paraphrase.

Liturgical Use:
Any worship service focusing on God's command to love one another, the communion of saints, or spiritual gifts and their exercise; weddings or other family services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



CAPETOWN was originally composed by Friedrich Filitz (b. Arnstadt, Thuringia, Germany, 1804; d. Munich, Germany, 1876) as a setting for the text "Morgenglanz der Ewigkeit"; that text and tune were included in Vierstimmiges Choralbuch (1847), a hymnal compiled by Baron Christian von Bunsen and publis…

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #222
  • Full Score (PDF, XML)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
With Heart and Voice: songs for all God's children #41
  • Full Score (PDF, XML)
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)


Instances (1 - 3 of 3)
Text InfoTune InfoScoreAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #222

Trinity Psalter Hymnal #499


With Heart and Voice #41

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