1 I've found the pearl of greatest price,
My heart doth sing for joy:
And sing I must, a Christ I have;
O what a Christ have I?
2 Christ is the Way, the Truth, the Life,
The way to God on high,
Life to the dead, the truth of types,
The truth of prophesy.
3 Christ is a prophet, priest and king,
A Prophet full of light,
A Priest that stands 'twixt God and man,
A King that rules with might.
4 Christ's manhood is a temple, where
The altar God doth rest;
My Christ, he is the sacrifice,
My Christ he is the priest.
5 My Christ he is the Lord of lords,
He is the King of kings;
He is the Sun of righteousness,
With healing in his wings.
6 My Christ, he is the Tree of Life,
Which in God's garden grows;
Whose fruit does feed, whose leaves do heal;
My Christ is Sharon's rose.
7 Christ is my meat, Christ is my drink,
My physic and my health,
My peace, my strength, my joy, my crown,
My glory and my wealth.
8 Christ is my father, and my friend,
My brother and my love;
My head, my hope, my counselor,
My advocate above.
9 My Christ, he is the Heaven of heavens,
My Christ what shall I call?
My Christ is first, my Christ is last,
My Christ is all in all.
The Christian's duty, exhibited in a series of hymns, 1791
|First Line:||I've found the pearl of greatest price! My heart doth sing for joy|
|Title:||I've Found the Pearl of Greatest Price!|
|Author:||John Mason (1683)|
|Refrain First Line:||I've found the pearl of greatest price!|
I've found the Pearl of greatest price. J. Mason. [Praise of Christ.] First published in his Spiritual Songs, or Songs of Praise to Almighty God, &c, 1683, No. 13, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines and 1 stanza of 4 lines, and headed "A Song of Praise for Christ;" and again in D. Sedgwick's reprint, 1859, p. 20. Various arrangements of the text are in common use in Great Britain and America, including the alteration, "I've found the precious Christ of God," in the Enlarged London Hymn Book, 1873, and others. The alterations and transpositions in the text are too numerous to enumerate. They can easily be detected by reference to the Sedgwick reprint as above. The opening lines of the original read:—
“I’ve found the Pearl of greatest Price,
My heart doth sing for joy;
And sing I must; a Christ I have;
O what a Christ have I?"
The words in italics Mason expanded into a poem which was included in his Poetical Remains, 1694. This poem was given in A Pocket Hymn-Book designed as a constant Companion for the Pious, collected from Various Authors, York, R. Spence (5th ed,, 1786, No. 113), the first stanza being:—
“A Christ I have, 0 what a Christ have I.
He built the globe, he spread the starry sky!
And yet for me, and Adam's sinful race,
He bled and dy'd to manifest his grace."
In 1786 this book was reprinted at the request of the Conference held at Bristol that year, with omissions and additions by J. Wesley, as A Pocket Hymn-Book for the Use of Christians of All Denominations, London, 1786. Wesley's Preface is exceedingly plain and severe. This hymn and one by James Allen were omitted, with others, in the reprint, and the omission is specially explained:
"But a friend tells me ‘Some of these, specially those two that are doggerel double distilled, namely, " The despised Nazarone," and that which begins, "A Christ I have, 0 what a Christ have I," are hugely admired, and continually echoed from Berwick-upon-Tweed to London.' If they are I am sorry for it: it will bring a deep reproach on the judgment of the Methodists."
Usually these strictures are said to have been applied by Wesley to "I've found the Pearl of greatest price," in the 1st stanza of which the line "A Christ I have, &c," is embedded. This is not so. They apply to the hymn from the Poetical Remains of 1694, in which the first line of each stanza begins, "A Christ I have, O what a Christ have I." It is to be noted that the words, "doggerel double distilled," are not J. Wesley's, but are given by him as a quotation from "a friend."
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)