• Darrell Stetler II

A Rewrite of An Old Hymn

I love old hymn texts.

Once in a while, I'll find an old hymn text that is just wonderful, but needs a bit of updating to be accessible to a modern audience.


Most recently, the one that has stuck in my mind is "Hast Thou Seen Him?" by Ora Rowan. It's a beautiful hymn text about the pull of idols, making a full surrender of true discipleship, and the idol-destroying beauty of Christ.


Hast Thou Heard Him? Lyrics


1 Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?

Is not thine a captured heart?

Chief among ten thousand own Him;

Joyful choose the better part.


CHORUS: Captivated by His beauty,

Worthy tribute haste to bring;

Let His peerless worth constrain thee,

Crown Him now unrivaled King.


2 Idols once they won thee, charmed thee,

Lovely things of time and sense;

Gilded thus does sin disarm thee,

Honeyed lest thou turn thee thence.


3 What has stripped the seeming beauty

From the idols of the earth?

Not a sense of right or duty,

But the sight of peerless worth.


4 Not the crushing of those idols,

With its bitter void and smart;

But the beaming of His beauty,

The unveiling of His heart.


5 Who extinguishes their taper

Till they hail the rising sun?

Who discards the garb of winter

Till the summer has begun?


6 ’Tis that look that melted Peter,

’Tis that face that Stephen saw,

’Tis that heart that wept with Mary,

Can alone from idols draw:


7 Draw and win and fill completely,

Till the cup o’erflow the brim;

What have we to do with idols

Who have companied with Him?


Marvelous, isn't it?


However, the lyrics to the song could use an update to be as accessible for some audiences as they could be.


Rewriting "Hast Thou Seen Him?"


The hymn had a couple things that made it challenging for public worship use:


1. It was too long.

Seven verses plus a chorus is... a bit much for public worship, even as beautifully as these verses flow.


2. It had some language/syntax techniques make it tough for less well-read singers.

Some people are really well-read and have a huge vocabulary. If you've read Shakespeare, then you're familiar with uses of English syntax that never make it near modern conversation. But many people are not as well-read, and we can either hate on that reality, or work within its bounds.


So I did a re-write of the lyrics, updating some language, and removing some verses.


I also tweaked the language so that the Church speaks to itself, inviting the one struggling with idols to join the corporate Church in glad turning to the all-satisfying glory of Jesus. Then, in the last verse, the church together turns toward Christ, to speak to Him and to one another, recommitting themselves to love and follow and worship Him only.


I am a big fan of checking the metrical index of poems, so that one can find a tune that works with old hymn texts. This particular song worked well with "'Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus." I found a track for that song by Don Moen, and paired them together, to make this:


Have You Seen Him? Lyric Video




Here are the lyrics I re-wrote:


1 Have you seen Him, heard Him, known Him?

Is not yours a captured heart?

Chief among ten thousand, know Him,

Joyful choose the better part.


2 Idols once, they won and charmed us

Lovely things of time and earth

Glitt'ring brightly, sin deceived us

Led us all astray from birth.


CHORUS: Captivated by His beauty,

All we are and have we bring.

Let His glory satisfy us,

Crown Him now unrivaled King.


3 What can strip the seeming beauty,

From the idols of the earth?

Not a sense of right or duty,

But the sight of matchless worth.


4 Tis that look that melted Peter,

'Tis that face that Stephen saw,

'Tis that heart that wept with Mary,

Can alone from idols draw.


CHORUS Captivated by His beauty,

All we are and have we bring.

Let His glory satisfy us,

Crown Him now unrivaled King.


5 Draw and win and fill completely,

Till our hearts o'erflow the brim;

What have we to do with idols

Who are walking now with Him?


CHORUS Captivated by His beauty,

All we are and have we bring.

Let His glory satisfy us,

Crown Him now unrivaled King.


The final verse didn't make it into the lyric video, but I hope that eventually I'll have a chance to find a musical partner who would record it with these 5.


In the meantime, I hope you enjoy it. If you'd like to use the song in your church, you're welcome to do that, please reach out and let me know.


If you're curious about how God can break down the idols of the heart and rule without rival there, I'd encourage you to check out my resource called 40 Days of Holiness.

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