Posted by: rcottrill | June 26, 2010

Today in 1702 – Philip Doddridge Born

Philip Doddridge was the youngest of 20 children. (Sadly, 18 of these died in infancy.) He was a pastor, and a man of great scholarship. Doddridge was a friend of Isaac Watts, and described himself as one of several lamps “kindled at Watts’s torch.” He died of tuberculosis at the age of 49, but he packed a lot in a few years!

Philip Doddridge entered  pastoral ministry at the age of 19, and at the urging of Isaac Watts, he also opened a theological school for training young pastors. During the years he taught there, he trained about 150 young men to serve Christ. In addition he wrote about 370 hymns. Several of these are still in use. It was Pastor Doddridge’s practice, after he had finished his sermon preparation, to write a hymn to suit the theme. Among the songs he has given us:

Great God, We Sing That Mighty Hand
How Gentle God’s Commands
How Rich Thy Bounty, King of Kings
My Gracious Lord, I Own Thy Right
O Happy Day
See Israel’s Gentle Shepherd Stand

(For How Rich Thy Bounty, see Today in 1739.) The hymn My Gracious Lord, I Own Thy Right was headed in the original manuscript: “Christ’s Service, The Fruit of Our Labours on Earth.”  The hymn is a clear declaration of the sovereignty of God over our lives. That was the principle violated in Eden when our first parents disobeyed God’s command (Gen. 2:17; 3:6). They were asserting their independence, and we’ve been suffering from that ever since!

The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36). Therefore, “To God our Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:25). Doddridge’s hymn, a personal affirmation of these truths, begins:

My gracious Lord, I own Thy right
To every service I can pay,
And call it my supreme delight
To hear Thy dictates, and obey.

What is my being but for Thee,
Its sure support, its noblest end?
’Tis my delight Thy face to see,
And serve the cause of such a Friend.

Philip Doddridge’s hymn, O Happy Day, was written to accompany one of his sermons, and first appeared in 1755. (The refrain was added later.) His original title was “Rejoicing in our Covenant Engagements to God,” referring to the covenant the Israelites made with the Lord in II Chron. 15:12, 15. Dodderidge obviously applied this to the bond that is formed between the believer and Christ, at conversion.

O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Saviour and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.

Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray,
And live rejoicing every day
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away.

O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.

’Tis done: the great transaction’s done!
I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.

Now for something completely different, 🙂 here is the Cathedral Quartet performing the tune for O Happy Day, but singing the Tonic Solfa (doh, ray, me) instead of words. It’s a novelty number, done just for fun.

Grace, ‘Tis a Charming Sound is a joint effort between Doddridge and Augustus Toplady, author of the hymn Rock of Ages. The hymn is based on Eph. 2:5, “By grace you have been saved,” and Pastor Doddridge’s original title was “Salvation by Grace.” Most hymnals today add a refrain, which was not part of the original.

Grace, ’tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to mine ear;
Heav’n with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.

Saved by grace alone!
This is all my plea;
Jesus died for all mankind,
And Jesus died for me.

‘Twas grace that wrote my name
In life’s eternal book;
’Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.

Grace taigjt my wand’ring feet
To tread the heav’nly road;
And new supplies each hour I meet,
While pressing on to God.

O let Thy grace inspire
My soul with strength divine
May all my powers to Thee aspire,
And all my days be Thine.


  1. […] a number of hymns, but most are forgotten today. He is responsible for several stanzas of the hymn Grace, ‘Tis a Charming Sound. (The other stanzas come from the pen of Philip Doddridge.) But the hymn for which he is remembered […]

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