Charles Wesley (1707-1788) wrote this hymn of four stanzas in 1747 under the title “Jesus, Show Thy Salvation”; it was first printed in that same year in Hymns for Those that Seek, and Those That Have Redemption. At that time there was a popular tune set by Purcell to the “Song of Venus” in Dryden’s play King Arthur. The opening words were:
Fairest isle, all isles excelling,
Wesley capitalized on the tune and wrote his hymn, which is virtually a composite of many verses of Scripture, showing Wesley’s familiarity with the Bible.
The tune BEECHER was composed especially for these words by John Zundel in 1870 and first appeared in Christian Heart Songs. Born December 10, 1815, at Hockdorf, Germany, Zundel emigrated to the United States, where he spent more than 30 years. He was the organist for 28 years in the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn, New York, at a time when the famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was the pastor; the tune bears Beecher's name to commemorate him. Zundel was the assistant musical editor for the Plymouth Collection, prepared for the use of Beecher’s congregation, and contributed this tune Beecher and 27 others to that hymnal. He died in July 1882, at Cannstadt, Germany.
Adapted from Wayne Hooper and E. E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, and E. E. White, Singing with Understanding, 1968. Used by permission.