We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Londonderry Air

One of my favorite pipe tunes is the Londonderry Air, which most people know from the song Danny Boy.  The tune itself comes from Ireland in the mid-19th century (although by looking at Wikipedia I found there is some debate as to when it was written).

Other than Danny Boy, the first time I heard a song to the tune was in a Catholic Church (I play for weddings and funerals, mostly for people of Irish descent), and I’ve heard the same song several times but never listened to the lyrics nor had access to a hymnal at these times.

So imagine my surprise this past Sunday when our organist was playing this tune as part of her pre-service selections!  I noted to a woman by us that I was surprised to hear it because (aside from pipes or the song Danny Boy) it was the first time I heard it outside of a Catholic Church!  She told me she has the song a hymnal at home and it isn’t Catholic.  So the conversation continued from there as she sung part of it and gave me the name of the song so I could look it up.

Well, from what I found on the Internet, the original song seems to have been just one verse which included the whole tune, and was written by Dottie Rambo.  Here is the song:

He Looked Beyond My Faults

Amazing Grace shall always be my song of praise,
For it was grace that bought my liberty.
I do not know just how He came to love me so;
He looked beyond my faults and saw my need.
I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary
To view the cross where Jesus died for me.
How marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul;
He looked beyond my faults and saw my need.

I think this is a very good, albeit short, hymn.

Now, as you search the ‘net you will find that many people have written a second and even a third verse, using the second part of the Air as the chorus (“I shall forever…”), and some of them aren’t bad.  I liked this one the best:

If not for grace, my soul would be a drifting ship
With no safe harbor from the angry waves
But Calvary's cross shines brightly through the darkest storm
And just in time, His mercy rescues me!

If someone knows the Catholic song, I’d be curious as to the lyrics and whether or not they are doctrinally sound for real Christians.


Anonymous said...

There is, of course, the words by the minister William Fullerton I cannot tell, which is sung in many protestant churches

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Thank you for that. I guess I've never attended the right protestant churches to never have heard this tune in them!

For readers who are unfamiliar, I just Google Fullerton's song and here are the lyrics:

1. I cannot tell why He Whom angels worship,
Should set His love upon the sons of men,
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers,
To bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know, that He was born of Mary
When Bethlehem’s manger was His only home,
And that He lived at Nazareth and labored,
And so the Savior, Savior of the world is come.

2. I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
Or how His heart upon the cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, He heals the brokenhearted,
And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Savior, Savior of the world is here.

3. I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
How He will claim His earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of East and West, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendor
When He the Savior, Savior of the world is known.

4. I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to Heaven, and Heaven to earth, will answer:
At last the Savior, Savior of the world is King!

Anonymous said...

He Looked Beyond My Faults - love that hymn, haven't heard it in a while.


Tim Maguire said...

"I cannot tell" is quite a favourite in our church. You should encourage your musicians to add it to their repertoire. It is utterly majestic when you get to the "but this I know... " bit in each verse. They should choose the key carefully though as the range is very large.

Totally off topic. "Broadsword calling Danny Boy" is a phrase in which film (movie)?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Tim,

Suggesting a song to our music leader would go absolutely nowhere. I suggest one be dropped and that went nowhere.

As for your quote, I have no idea! I don't watch that many movies of modern times.

Bill Wyler said...

Looked the song up on YouTube and it was really good. Enjoyed it so much.

Anonymous said...

Yes, beautiful words from the first hymnal I got for myself, as we did not sing that many old hymns in the first churches I attended.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Our hymnal has this tune to the song, I Cannot Tell. Here are the lyrics.

I cannot tell why He, the King of Heaven,
Should leave the peace of all eternity,
Why God Himself should lay aside His splendor,
To leave the Father's side and come to me.
But this I know; our silence filled with singing,
And all our darkness fled from heaven's light,
When Christ the Lord, so human, yet so holy,
In love was born a child for me that holy night.

I canot tell why He, the Joy of Heaven,
Should give Himself to suffer for my sin,
Why Holy God should love me in my shamefulness,
Why He should die to draw my soul to Him.
But this I know; that Christ the Lord is risen,
And praise His name, He's risen now in me!
Because He live, I'll rise to life eternal!
He took my guilty heart, and I'm forever free.

I cannot tell when He will rule the nations,
How He will claim His loved ones as His own;
And who can tell the holy jubilation,
When all His children gather 'round His throne.
But this I know; all flesh will see His glory,
And skies will burst as all creation sings.
The Son will rise on one eternal morning,
When Christ, the Savior of the world, is Lord and King!

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Seems we have a well-loved tune to put many lyrics to!