Posted by: rcottrill | June 23, 2010

Today in 1738 – Samuel Medley Born

It is interesting how the career path for some takes dramatic turns, and how the Lord keeps His hand on individuals to call them to Himself and engage them in service for Him.

Samuel Medley’s father was a school teacher, and a friend of the scientist Sir Isaac Newton. Young Samuel was apprenticed to an oil dealer, but abandoning that career, he joined the British Navy. After he was wounded in a battle with the French fleet, he was taken to the home of his godly grandfather to recuperate. The Lord used the prayers and witness of that good man, and the reading of a sermon by Isaac Watts, to bring Samuel Medley to faith in Christ.

Unfit for an active naval career because of the effects of his injury, and in the glow of his new-found faith, Medley trained for the ministry. By God’s grace his pastoral work was abundantly fruitful, and he also wrote dozens of hymns–among them, several that continue in use today: O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth, Awake My Soul to Joyful Lays, and I Know That My Redeemer Lives.

The first of these Medley called simply Praise of Christ. Written over 200 years ago, the words are soundly biblical and still relevant. Christ shed His precious blood (I Pet. 1:18-19) to pay the ransom (Mk. 10:45) to rescue us from divine wrath (Jn. 3:18, 36). When we put our faith in Christ, we are clothed in His righteousness (I Cor. 1:30; Gal. 3:26-27), and gain a right standing before God (Eph. 1:3, 6). For that great work of redemption He deserves our unending praise.

O could I speak the matchless worth,
O could I sound the glories forth which in my Saviour shine,
I’d soar and touch the heav’nly strings, and vie with Gabriel while he sings
In notes almost divine, in notes almost divine.

I’d sing the precious blood He spilt,
My ransom from the dreadful guilt of sin, and wrath divine;
I’d sing His glorious righteousness, in which all perfect, heavenly dress
My soul shall ever shine, my soul shall ever shine.

Samuel Medley has also given us a fine New Year’s hymn, Father of Mercies! God of Love! You can see the commonly used tune on the Cyber Hymnal. But the hymn was written in what is known as Long Metre (, and there are a number of familiar tunes that will work with it, including Duke Street (used with Jesus Shall Reign).

Father of mercies! God of love!
Whose kind compassion still we prove,
Our praise accept, and bless us here,
As brought to this—another year.

We sing Thy goodness all divine,
Whose radiant beams around us shine,
’Tis through Thy goodness we appear
Preserved to this—another year.

Our souls, our all we here resign;
Make us, and keep us ever Thine;
And grant that in Thy love and fear
We may begin—another year.

Be this our sweet experience still,
To know and do Thy holy will;
Then shall our souls, with joy sincere,
Bless Thee for this—another year.

(2) Name of Jesus, Softly Stealing (Data Missing)
Here is a little song (only two stanzas) that reflects a warmth of devotion toward the Lord Jesus Christ, particularly focusing on His name. We know nothing at all about the authorship of the words, though the tune was composed by William Wallace Coe. (You can hear the tune played on the Cyber Hymnal.)

The name of Christ represents His Person (just as our name represents us). Notice how, in the last line of the first stanza, the author uses “Name” to stand for the Person of Christ. The name of Jesus also represents His authority. When Christians pray in His name, they are appealing to that (Eph. 5:20). And the saints are identified as those who “call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:2).

There is comfort and encouragement in His name, because of who He is, and the authority He has as our Saviour and heavenly Advocate.

Name of Jesus, softly stealing,
O’er a world of strife and shame,
Thou canst bring us heav’nly healing,
O Thou all restoring Name.

Name of Jesus, heav’n of gladness,
Cause our doubts and fears to cease;
Soothe away the aching sadness;
Name of Jesus, give us peace.


  1. […] more about the hymn O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth, see Today in 1738. For more on Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling, see Today in 1868. Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken, […]

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns (Samuel Medley) The Cyber […]


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