Posted by: rcottrill | November 28, 2012

O Boundless Salvation

Words: William Booth (b. Apr. 10, 1829; d. Aug. 20, 1912)
Music: My Jesus, I Love Thee, by J. Ellis (further information needed)


Wordwise Hymns (and here too)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This sturdy hymn is sometimes called simply Boundless Salvation (as it is in the Cyber Hymnal). Salvation Army folk refer to it the world over as the Founder’s Hymn, since the words were written by their founder, William Booth. The original had seven verses, though I notice that Living Hymns includes only CH-1, 2, 6 and 7. When it was first sung, General Booth added a chorus to his verses, which I don’t believe is used today. It said:

The heavenly gales are blowing,
The cleansing stream is flowing,
Beneath its waves I’m going,
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

A further word about the composer and the tune. If you have additional information about “J. Ellis,” his full name, and the dates of his birth and death, I’d greatly appreciate it. The hymnal Hymns of the Christian Life calls the tune Booth, and calls it St. Anne (possibly in error, as this is the name of an entirely different tune). Still others call the tune Affection, so it seems to have many names!

Since the tune is called, My Jesus, I Love Thee, according to the Cyber Hymnal, it may well have been used with the words of that hymn too. It does fit very well, when the phrase in the last line, “If ever I loved Thee,” is repeated three times. I encourage you to give it a try. It changes the emotional feel of the song from warm and tender sentiment to that of a stalwart and forceful testimony.

For an evangelistic campaign held in Exeter Hall, in London, organizers chose the theme “Boundless Salvation.” For the use of those who gathered there was a song sheet of “Boundless Salvation Songs,” including one that began, “Boundless the salvation Jesus offers at the cross.” Inspired by the theme, and the songs, William Booth laboured all one night on a hymn of his own. Coworkers arrived at his home at six o’clock in the morning and he handed them the words of this song.

CH-1) O boundless salvation! deep ocean of love,
O fullness of mercy, Christ brought from above,
The whole world redeeming, so rich and so free,
Now flowing for all men, now flowing for all men,
Now flowing for all men, come, roll over me!

Used to dealing with men and women often considered the dregs of society, Booth wasn’t afraid to be blunt and specific about sin. Stanzas not usually included in hymnals today fit that design.

CH- 3) My tempers are fitful, my passions are strong,
They bind my poor soul and they force me to wrong;
Beneath thy blest billows deliverance I see,
O come, mighty ocean, O come, mighty ocean,
O come, mighty ocean, and roll over me!

CH-4) Now tossed with temptation, then haunted with fears,
My life has been joyless and useless for years;
I feel something better most surely would be
If once thy pure waters, if once thy pure waters,
If once thy pure waters would roll over me.

It’s reported that 358 individuals trusted Christ as Saviour at the Exeter Hall meetings. No doubt the song was used of God to set the tone of the services, expressing both human need, and God’s wonderful answer, through Christ. “Nor is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12).

It is “so great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3), and an “eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9). No wonder it is “the gospel [good news]” for lost sinners (Eph. 1:13; cf. Rom. 1:16). For time and eternity, we’ll be praising the Lord for what He did for us at Calvary. “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honour and power belong to the Lord our God!” (Rev. 19:1).

In 1945, a British soldier (and a member of the Salvation Army), walking through a German town, was startled to hear Boundless Salvation being played on a violin. Pushing through the crowd, he found an elderly man, sitting on the curb playing the tune. Having spent some years in the United States, the violinist was able to speak English. He reported that the Salvation Army ministry in the town had been virtually ended by the war. But he, the Sergeant Major, continued to share the gospel message by singing and playing in the streets.

CH-7) And now, hallelujah! the rest of my days
Shall gladly be spent in promoting His praise
Who opened His bosom to pour out this sea
Of boundless salvation, of boundless salvation,
Of boundless salvation for you and for me.

1) In what ways is God’s salvation “boundless” (limitless)?

2) What are some effective ways to share the message of salvation?


Wordwise Hymns (and here too)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. […] From Google Blogs Search- Worship Music […]

  2. There were many more verses to the Founders Song than the seven published in the Salvation Army Song Book. Booth took the heart and soul of those singing the song through the journey from lost soul to one cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb by a surrendered life. The chorus was not sung after every verse but at the end of the song. Sometimes… what is known as the Salvation Army Doxology was sung at the end instead. “Praise God I’m Saved x2. All’s well x2. He sets me Free!” Maybe not as old as Wesley Hymns but has the same Holy Spirit affect! Hallelujah!

    • Thanks very much for sharing that. It’s a great, triumphant song. The hymn book we use at the church contains four stanzas. I’d be interested in seeing the rest, if you could send them along. God bless.


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