Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken



Performance Notes:

  • For performance notes on this song, see page 1085 of Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship.
  • The following article is from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook.

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 87: 1-3, Ps. 132:13-14, Matt. 16:18, Isa. 26:1
st. 2 = Ps. 46:4, Rev. 7:17 , Rev. 22:1
st. 3 = Ex. 13:21-22, Ex. 16:14-16, Isa. 4:5-6, Ps. 105:39-41
st. 4 = Gal. 6:14, Matt. 6:19-21, Ps. 87:6

Written in five stanzas by John Newton, this text was published in the Olney Hymns (1779). There it was part of a group of hymns inspired by Scripture passages (Newton referred to Isa. 33:20-22). The original stanzas 1-3 and 5 are printed in the Psalter Hymnal (with "you" in place of the original "thee"). The hymn has been described as the "one truly joyful hymn" in the Olney collection and the evangelical equivalent to the more catholic “The Church's One Foundation.” John Julian ranks “Glorious Things” with the finest hymns in the English language.

The text uses the metaphor of Zion, the (new) city of God (see Heb. 12:22) for the church or people of God. Founded securely on Christ's salvation, God's people experience his presence, protection, and guidance, and share in his glory.

Liturgical Use:
With preaching on ecclesiology (Lord's Day 21, etc.); profession of faith; ordination/commissioning services; church festivals, anniversaries, and ecumenical services.

Other Resources:

  • Visit for more information on this song and additional resources.
  • The following are alternative accompaniments for this tune, AUSTRIA/AUSTRIAN HYMN .

Alternative Harmonization for Organ and Descant Resources:

  • Copes, V. Earle. Hymn Intonations Preludes & Free Harmonizations. Vol II Selah 160-722 [1991]
  • Hancock, Gerre. Organ Improvisations for Hymn Singing. Hinshaw HMO-100 [1975]
  • Mawby, Colin.  Hymns for Occasions. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0-86209-568-9 [1994]
  • McKinney, Howard D. Preludes for Fifty-Five Well-Known Hymn Tunes. J. Fischer 9770 [1967]
  • Noble, T. Tertius. Free Organ Accompaniments to One Hundred Well-Known Hymn Tunes. J. Fischer 8175 [1946]
  • Powell, Robert J. Free Hymn Accompaniments. Abingdon APM-513 [1979]
  • Rawsthorne, Noel. 200 Last Verses. Kevin Mayhew ISBN 0 86209 189 6 [1991]
  • Shaw, Geoffrey. The Descant Hymn-Tune Book bk 1. Novello 15207
  • Wilkinson, John T. One Hundred and Four Descants for “The Hymn Book”. enThusia [1980]
  • Wyton, Alec. New Shoots from Old Roots. SMP KK 279 [1983]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Hopson, Hal H. The Creative Use of the Piano in Worship. Hope 8392 [2008]
Song Audio: 
Psalm 87
Song Number: 
Projection and Reprint Information: 
  • Words and Music: The Words and Music are in the Public Domain; you do not need permission to project or reprint the Words and Music.
Public Domain