Story Behind The Hymn, “From Greenlands Icy Mountains”

Write something for us to sing at the service tomorrow morning, Dr. Shepley, vicar of Wrexham, said to his son-in-law, Reginald Heber, in 1819.

Dr. Shepley was to preach next day in behalf of foreign missions, and he was chatting over the subject of his discourse with a few friends. Heber, already known as a writer of verse, withdrew to another part of the room, and soon returned with the first three stanzas of From Greenlands Icy Mountains, just as we sing them now. The only exception: in the seventh line of the second verse he wrote savage, which he afterward changed to heathen.

Dr. Shepley was satisfied, but Heber was not until he added the triumphant fourth stanza, beginning: Waft, waft, ye winds his story.

In 1823 Heber went as a missionary to India, where he died after three years of patient and loving service.

From Greenlands Icy Mountains Hymn Lyrics

1 From Greenlands icy mountains,
From Indias coral strand,
Where Africs sunny fountains
Roll down their golden sand;
From many an ancient river,
From many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver
Their land from errors chain.

2 What tho the spicy breezes
Blow soft oer Ceylons isle,
Though evry prospect pleases,
And only man is vile!
In vain, with lavish kindness,
The gifts of God are strown;
The heathen, in their blindness,
Bow down to wood and stone.

3 Shall we, whose souls are lighted
With wisdom from on high,
Shall we to men benighted
The lamp of life deny?
Salvation! O salvation!
The joyful sound proclaim,
Till earths remotest nation
Has heard Messiahs name.

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