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My Top Ten Hymns

Another easy one to choose again a favorite hymn of many. This hymn is a wonderful celebration of our praise and worship and why we sing together.

2. Angel Voices Ever Singing - Rev Francis Pott

Why one of my choices?

Angel Stained Glass

Those who know me will know that I love worship in all of its forms from silence to hectic all age and creative worship. Music is a key part of preparing and opening ourselves to the presence of God, the key themes of this hymn.

It sums up, for me, that the beauty of our buildings, our creative arts and the worship we share are all to give glory to God.

It also encompasses my belief that when this earthly life is done music will continue to resound around heaven.

I expect I still will not be able to sing parts but in heaven I am confident that won't matter!


Angel voices ever singing
round thy throne of light,
angel-harps for ever ringing,
rest not day nor night;
thousands only live to bless thee
and confess thee Lord of might.

Thou who art beyond the farthest
mortal eye can scan,
can it be that thou regardest
songs of sinful man?
can we know that thou art near us,
and wilt hear us? yea, we can.

Yea, we know that thou rejoicest
o'er each work of thine;
thou didst ears and hands and voices
for thy praise design;
craftsman's art and music's measure
for thy pleasure all combine.

In thy house, great God, we offer
of thine own to thee;
and for thine acceptance proffer
all unworthily
hearts and minds and hands and voices
in our choicest psalmody.

Honour, glory, might, and merit
thine shall ever be,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
blessed Trinity.
Of the best that thou hast given
earth and heaven render thee.

The version of this hymn in Singing the Faith perhaps illiustrates the unintentional danger of tinkering with words to de-gender them. Where "Songs of sinful man" has been replaced by "Sinful woman, man?" Several ladies have expressed to me the view is it only woman who is sinful! I am sure not the intention of the editor.

Background to the Hymn

"Angel voices ever singing" was written for a service to dedicate a new pipe organ at St. John the Evangelist's, Wingate, Lancashire, in 1861.

The new parish Vicar, the Revd. W. K. Macrorie asked his friend, Revd. Francis Pott, to write a hymn for the dedication service.

The 19th century saw the installation of pipe organs by the thousands in our Chuches. Sometimes to great debate and on occassion to the breakdown of relationships where it was felt such instruments were being imposed on churches.

Of course, prior to this time musicians would have led the singing of the metrical psalms on stringed instruments. This style of musical accompaniment was virtually swept away by the Victorian love affair with the pipe organ.

As organs have been replaced and the number of those skilled in playing them has reduced we are returning to worship being led by groups of musicians on stringed and woodwind instruments.

The author Revd Francis Pott was educated in Oxford and ordained in 1856. He served on the committee of 'Hymns Ancient & Modern' which was published in 1861.

He wrote several original hymns but is best remembered for his translations of ancient hymns into English. Perhaps the most famous of which is The strife is o'er the battle won.

After writing the words of this hymn he asked Dr. E.G. Monk, the musical editor of Hymns Ancient & Modern to compose a suitable tune. Resulting in a wonderful match between poetry and harmony.

From the Book "The Methodist Hymn Book Illustrated by John Telford B.A. (1906)

Hymn 658. Angel Voices Ever Singing


From second edition (1866) of hymns fitted to the order of common prayer (1861), with the title, "for the dedication of an Organ or for a meeting of choirs."

Mr Pott was born in 1832, educated at Brasenose, Oxford, and Rector of Northill, Ely. 1866 - 1891; he afterwards retired to Speldhurst, Tunbridge Wells. His translations from the Latin and Syriac, and his original hymns, have been very popular. He edited The Free-Rhytm Psalter (Oxford University Press). His Ascension hymn, "Lift up our heads, eternal gates." is well known.

The Free-Rhythm Psalter is available on the Internet Archive and can be accessed Here...