~From Greenland’s Icy Mountains
something for us to sing at the service tomorrow morning,” Dr.
Shepley, vicar of Wrexham, said to his son-in-law, Reginald Heber, in
Shepley was to preach next day in behalf of foreign missions, and he was
chatting over the subject of his discourse with a few friends. Heber,
already known as a writer of verse, withdrew to another part of the
room, and soon returned with the first three stanzas of “From
Greenland’s Icy Mountains,” just as we sing them now. The only
exception: in the seventh line of the second verse he wrote savage,
which he afterward changed to heathen.
Shepley was satisfied, but Heber was not until he added the triumphant
fourth stanza, beginning: “Waft,
waft, ye winds his story.”
1823 Heber went as a missionary to India, where he died after three
years of patient and loving service.
Greenland’s Icy Mountains
From Greenland’s icy mountains,
India’s coral strand,
Afric’s sunny fountains
down their golden sand;
many an ancient river,
many a palmy plain,
call us to deliver
land from error’s chain.
What tho the spicy breezes
soft o’er Ceylon’s isle,
ev’ry prospect pleases,
only man is vile!
vain, with lavish kindness,
gifts of God are strown;
heathen, in their blindness,
down to wood and stone.
Shall we, whose souls are lighted
wisdom from on high,
we to men benighted
lamp of life deny?
joyful sound proclaim,
earth’s remotest nation
heard Messiah’s name.
Paul, Steve Green’s MIDI Hymnal, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos
Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.