O, HAPPY DAY                                                                                            written in 1755

The Story

Few church songs have gone through as many changes as this song has.  Philip Doddridge – who wrote this song – would not have recognized it as sung by the Hawkins’ Youth Choir’s African American Arrangement, which put the song on the charts in the 1960s.  But, I have a feeling he might have liked it!

Doddridge had gone through a lot of changes himself.  His mother was a Lutheran, but both his mother and father had died by his 13th birthday.  Orphaned, he went to live with a Presbyterian minister.  Later he studied at an Anglican school, but decided, instead, to become a Congregational minister.

Though Doddridge wrote many hymns, he was reluctant to have any of them published.  So, “O, Happy Day” wasn’t put into print until 1755, 4 years after his death.  The refrain was not added until a hundred years later when an anonymous author added, “Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away,” and put it to a popular tune of that day.

But the theology of the song never changed: “’Tis done, the great transaction’s done; I am my Lord’s, and He is mine.”  That should be enough to make all of us sing, “O, happy day!”

The Song

            Read this hymn, and use it as your own song of celebration!

O happy day, that fixed my choice on Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice, and tell its raptures all abroad.

Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day:
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!

O happy bond, that seals my vows to Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house, while to that sacred shrine I move.

It’s done: the great transaction’s done! I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me and I followed on; charmed to confess the voice divine.

Now rest, my long-divided heart, fixed on this blissful center, rest;
here have I found a nobler part; here heav’nly pleasures fill my breast.

High heav’n, that heard the solemn vow, that vow renewed shall daily hear,
till in life’s latest hour I bow and bless in death a bond so dear.

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