COME, WE THAT LOVE THE LORD          written in 1707

The Story

Isaac Watts wrote more than 600 hymns.  Included in his first hymnal – the first hymnal printed in English – were the lyrics to this great hymn.  In 1763, Aaron Williams put it together with a tune called “St. Thomas”.

But, in many denominations in the United States, this hymn underwent a transformation.  Maybe because of the Negro spirituals, gospel songs of the 1800s & early 1900s emphasized the chorus of the song (that means, 200 years ago churches were learning new songs and new ways to sing old songs!).  So, those old lyrics written by Watts were attached to a chorus called “We’re Marching to Zion”, and were set to a fast-paced gospel tune by a Brooklyn minister named Robert Lowry.

Lowry had a brilliant idea; he led the adults in singing the complicated verses written by Isaac Watts, then he led the children to join in on the chorus, singing, “We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion…”.  So, the children and their parents were united in worship, led by an innovative reworking of this classic old hymn.

Most churches today sing the more “contemporary” version… assuming you define “contemporary” as 1867!

The Song

            Read these lyrics, and, today, make them your own…

Come, we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known;
join in a song with sweet accord, and thus surround the throne.

Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God;
but children of the heavenly King may speak their joys abroad.

The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets
before we reach the heavenly fields, or walk the golden streets.

Then let our songs abound, and every tear be dry;
we’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground, to fairer worlds on high.


Come, we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known;
join in a song with sweet accord… join in a song with sweet accord…
and thus surround the throne, and thus surround the throne.


We’re marching to Zion, Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
we’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.


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