Purity of Heart

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Blest are the pure in heart, For they shall see our God

Author: John Keble (1819)
Published in 393 hymnals

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Representative Text

1 Blest are the pure in heart,
for they shall see our God;
the secret of the Lord is theirs,
their soul is Christ's abode.

2 The Lord, who left the heavens
our life and peace to bring,
to dwell in lowliness with men,
their pattern and their King;

3 Still to the lowly soul
he doth himself impart,
and for his dwelling and his throne
chooseth the pure in heart.

4 Lord, we thy presence seek;
may ours this blessing be;
give us a pure and lowly heart,
a temple meet for thee.

Source: Ancient and Modern: hymns and songs for refreshing worship #602

Author: John Keble

Keble, John, M.A., was born at Fairford, in Gloucestershire, on St. Mark's Day, 1792. His father was Vicar of Coln St. Aldwin's, about three miles distant, but lived at Fairford in a house of his own, where he educated entirely his two sons, John and Thomas, up to the time of their entrance at Oxford. In 1806 John Keble won a Scholarship at Corpus Christi College, and in 1810 a Double First Class, a distinction which up to that time had been gained by no one except Sir Robert Peel. In 1811 he was elected a Fellow of Oriel, a very great honour, especially for a boy under 19 years of age; and in 1811 he won the University Prizes both for the English and Latin Essays. It is somewhat remarkable that amid this brilliantly successful career,… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Blest are the pure in heart, For they shall see our God
Title: Purity of Heart
Author: John Keble (1819)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Bless'd are the pure in heart. J. Keble. [Purification.] This poem, in 17 stanzas of 4 lines, is dated "Oct. 10, 1819." It was first published in his Christian Year, 1827. As a whole it is not in common use. The following centos; some of which are found in numerous collections, have been compiled therefrom:—
1. In J. Bickersteth's Psalms & Hymns, 1832, No. 449, we have stanzas i. and xvii. This was repeated in Elliott's Psalms & Hymns, 1835, No. 258, as "Blest are the pure," &c. Although it has fallen out of use in Great Britain, it is still given in a few American collections, as the American Methodist Episcopal Hymns, 1849; The Evangelical Hymnal, N. Y., 1880.
2. In his Mitre Hymn Book, 1836, W. J. Hall published a cento, as No. 249, which was composed of two stanzas from this poem, and two that were new. By whom this cento was arranged, by Hall, or his collaborator, E. Osier, is not known, as the H. MSS. simply say "Keble."
In Murray's Hymnal, 1852, No. 122, this cento was repeated with slight alterations, and the addition of a doxology. This text, sometimes with, and again without a doxology, has been adopted by most of the leading hymnals in Great Britain, and a few in America, including Hymns Ancient & Modern; the Hymnary; Church Hymns; the H. Companion; Thring; the Baptist Hymnal; the American Sabbath Hymn Book, N. Y., 1858, and others. In a note to this cento, No. 141, in the 1st edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern, Mr. Biggs, in his Annotated Hymns Ancient & Modern, quotes these words from Keble: "Hymn No. 141 is materially altered; not, however, without asking the writer's leave, Rev. J. Keble." Whether this leave was given to Hall, in the first instance, in 1836, or to Mr. Murray on adopting Hall's text in 1852, cannot now be determined.
3. In several American collections, Hall's cento is repeated with the omission of stanza ii. These include Songs for the Sanctuary, N. Y., 1865.
4. In the Hymns for Christian Seasons, Gainsburgh, 2nd edition, 1854, the cento is, stanzas i.-iv. are Keble's stanzas i., xii., xiv. and xvii. very much altered, and v. Hall, stanza iv.
5. In Alford's Year of Praise, 1867, No. 251, the cento is Keble, stanzas i., ii., iii., xv., and xvii.
6. In Nicholson's Appendix Hymnal, 1866, stanzas iv., viii.-x. are given as No. 19, beginning, "Give ear, ye kings, bow down."
In addition to these, other arrangements are sometimes found, but are not of sufficient importance to be enumerated.

-- Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



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