1 Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
2 Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
3 To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small,
in all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.
4 Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
all praise we would render, O help us to see
'tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee!
Source: Hymns to the Living God #36
|First Line:||Immortal, invisible, God only wise|
|Title:||Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise|
|Author:||Walter C. Smith (1867)|
Walter Chalmers Smith wrote this hymn in six stanzas based on 1 Timothy 1:17 and published it in his Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life in 1867. Percy Dearmer edited the text into a four-stanza version for the English Hymnal in 1906; this version is now standard. Most hymnals include all four stanzas, though sometimes with further revision. In the first, second, and fourth stanzas, blinding light is the prevailing metaphor for God's glory. The theme of stanza three is the eternal God as the Giver of life.
ST. DENIO is a tune of Welsh origin. It is also known as JOANNA and may have been based on a Welsh folk song. The tune was first published under the name PALESTRINA in a sacred song collection in 1839. The editors of the English Hymnal paired ST. DENIO with “Immortal, Invisible” in 1906. Though the tune begins on the tonic note, the first three notes outline a different chord. Despite this, it is fairly easy for congregations to sing. Sing this sturdy tune in unison or in harmony with vigorous accompaniment.
This hymn can be sung at any time of year as a hymn of praise. The vigorous tune works well for festival settings. "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" is for organ and handbells and includes an optional trumpet trio. A festival setting for organ and congregation is found in “The Coral Ridge Festival, vol. 1.” Another arrangement of “Immortal, Invisible” is introduced and concluded by the choir, and is a great setting for congregational accompaniment. “Walk Worthy” contains an energetic piano solo on ST. DENIO. A concertato arrangement of “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” for congregation, choir, organ, and trumpet features a range of moods to suit the text.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org