The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Beyond The Glittering Starry Globe

For Ascension

Words: James Fanch and Daniel Turner

CHRIST SEEN OF ANGELS. – 1 Tim. iii. 16

Which things the angels desire to look into.” 1 Peter, i. 12.

Source: The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Record. Vol. VIII. New Series – Vol. 1. (New York: Z. P. Hatch, 1949), pp. 8-9.

  1. Beyond the glittering starry globe
    Far as the eternal hills,
    There, in the boundless worlds of light,
    Our Great Redeemer dwells.

  2. Immortal angels, bright and fair,
    In countless armies shine,
    At his right hand, with golden harps,
    To offer songs divine.

  3. "Hail! Prince," they cry, "for ever hail!
    Whose unexampled love
    Moved thee to quit these glorious realms
    And royalties above!"

  4. While Thou didst condescend on earth
    To suffer rude disdain,
    They cast their honours at Thy feet,
    And waited in Thy train.

  5. [Through all thy travels here below
    They did thy steps attend;
    Oft gazed and wondered where at last
    The scene of love would end.

  6. [They saw thy heart transfixed with wounds,
    Thy crimson sweat and gore;
    They saw thee break the bars of death,
    As none e'er broke before.

  7. [They brought thy chariot from above
    To bear thee to thy throne;
    Clapp'd their triumphant wings and cried
    “The glorious work is done!”]

  8. Blest Angels! who adoring wait
    Around the Saviour's throne,
    Oh! tell us, for your eyes have seen,
    The wonders he has done.

  9. Ye saw Him, when the heavens and earth,
    A chaos first he made;
    And night involved the formless deep
    In her tremendous shade.

  10. And when, amidst the darksome void,
    He bade the light arise,
    And kindled up those shining orbs,
    That now adorn the skies: –

  11. Ye saw ;—and in melodious song,
    Your powerful voices raise;
    While all the new-born worlds resound
    Their Great Creator's praise.

  12. [Saw how he humbled Egypt's pride
    With his avenging hand;
    And Israel through the desert led
    Safe to the promised land.'

  13. And, when on earth he deigned to dwell,
    In mortal flesh arrayed,
    Ye, wondering, saw the holy child
    In Bethlehem's stable laid!

  14. While in the lowly crib reposed,
    His mother's tender care,
    Ye stood around his homely bed,
    And watched his slumbers there.

  15. [His birth propitious you proclaimed
    In high celestial strains;
    Not in the courts of haughty kings,
    But midst the humble swains.]

  16. When fasting in the desert long
    His spotless soul was tried;
    Ye saw him there the tempter foil,
    And soon his wants supplied.

  17. Ye heard what gracious words he spoke,
    The hearts of men to win;
    And saw, well pleas'd, the listening crowd
    Drink the sweet doctrine in; –

  18. Beheld diseases, tempests, death,
    His sovereign word obey;
    And how, on dark benighted minds,
    He poured eternal day; –

  19. Saw Him, from busy scenes retired
    To spend the midnight hours;
    While pure devotion filled his soul
    With all her rapturous powers.

  20. When on the sacred mount he shone,
    In his own light arrayed,
    Ye saw, and own'd your Sov'reign there,
    And your just homage paid; –

  21. Saw, when o'er Salem's fearful doom
    He shed the tender tear;
    And how to all his gracious calls,
    She turned the deafened ear.

  22. In all his toils, and dangers too
    Ye did His steps attend;
    Oft paused – and wondered, how at last
    This scene of love would end!

  23. And when the powers of hell combined
    To fill his cup of woe,
    Your pitying eyes beheld his tears
    In bloody anguish flow.

  24. As on the torturing Cross he hung,
    And darkness veiled the sky,
    Ye saw, aghast ! – that awful sight –
    The Lord of glory die!

  25. Astonished; here ye search and learn
    High Heaven's mysterious ways;
    That thus to guilty dying men,
    Immortal life conveys.

  26. Anon he bursts the gates of death, –
    Subdues the tyrant's power;
    Ye saw the illustrious Conqueror rise
    And hailed the blissful hour! –

  27. Tended his chariot up the sky,
    And bore him to his throne;
    Then swept your golden harps, and cried
    "The glorious work is done!"

  28. My soul the joyful triumph feels,
    And thinks the moments long
    Ere she her Saviour's glory sees,
    And joins your rapturous song.


This was originally a seven-stanza poem written by Rev James Fanch, a Baptist minister of Romsey, in the “Gospel Magazine,” June 1776. Subsequently, it was expanded by 21 stanzas by Rev. Daniel Turner of Abingdon, who included it in his “Poems Devotional and Moral,” 1794.

Rev. Fanch was the author of “Paraphrase on a Select Number of the Psalms of David, done from the Latin of Buchanan, to which are added some Occasional Pieces,” 1764, and other devotional items. Rev. Turner was also the author of “Divine Songs, Hymns, and other Poems,” 1747, and other devotional items.

This hymn also appeared in a 1791 edition of the Baptist Memorial and Monthly Record, prefaced by the following text:

Jesus Seen Of Angels

Most of our hymn books contain a hymn on this subject, which will be seen to be a portion of the following composition; but, singularly enough, some half dozen names appear in different books as its author. By the request of the writer of these lines "the Psalmist” has been properly corrected, so as to define its paternity; still, however, as the whole composition, as we believe, has never been printed on this side the Atlantic, the "Memorial'' inscribes it on its pages. And for ever to settle its authorship, we precede it by a letter from the Rev. Daniel Turner of Abingdon, to Rev. Dr. Rippon, of London, dated

"Abingdon, Feb. 22, 1791.

"Dear Sir,—I thank you for your obliging epistle. As to your enquiry concerning the hymn, Christ Seen of Angels, it is true, as you were told by our good brother Medley, that one part of it was made by my dear friend the Rev. James Fanch, of Ronway, and the other part by me.

The text of the above hymn immediately followed this text. This letter was from Rev. Daniel Turner, one of the two authors. By the way, Rev. Turner and Rev. James Ranch were more than just “dear friends,” they were also brothers-in-law.

The hymn is rarely printed with all its verses. Usually, the longest reprinting is the 23 verses seen in Roundell Palmer's The Book of Praise (1864) and the 1868 Book of Christmas Hymns (London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1868), pp. 110-114. The verses usually omitted are 5, 6, 7, 12, and 15.

This poem inspired the (much altered) hymn, Beyond The Glittering Starry Skies.

Of concern is this note from Samuel Willoughby Duffield, in his English Hymns: Their Authors and History (1886), p. 67, writes:

The original is probably the hymn, “Beyond the glittering, starry skies," which was the joint production of the brothers Berridge, early Wesleyans—the elder one [John], a preacher of great ability and eccentricity, and the other a humble porter. The clergyman, Christophers tells us, called on his brother to take a letter for him. The porter replied that he could not go, as he was making a hymn. " That's my business," said the elder, “ you take the letter, and I'll finish the hymn." On his return, the hymn was not quite ready, the preacher being staggered at the last stanza. “ Oh, I have that," cried the porter, and added the four lines :

" They brought his chariot from above
To hear him to his throne,
Clapp’d their triumphant wings and cried.
The glorious work is done."

I have downloaded John Berridge's volume of poems, Sion's Songs, as well as a volume that purports to include his works, together with biographical works. Regrettably, neither volume contains an index. I've gone through both volumes in the hope that I can either confirm or deny Rev. Duffield's note, but haven't encountered this poem. I plan to go through them again, just to be sure about the presence or absence of this poem.

Separate searches have not provided a copy.

The following note is from Roundell Palmer, The Book of Common Praise (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1898), p. 492.

Lxxiii.—Twenty-three out of twenty-eight stanzas, communicated by Mr. Turner, one of the authors, to Dr. Rippon in 1791. (See Rippon's Baptist Annual Register, vol. iii. p. 471.) The composition is generally the same as one which appeared in the Gospel Magazine, for June, 1776: but with a good many verbal differences. The first four stanzas of the text are by Fanch, who also wrote the three which follow them in the original, but which are here omitted, because they are repeated in substance towards the end of the part contributed by Turner. The stanzas, from "Blest angels," to the end, are by Turner, and were published by him separately, with variations (not improvements), in a little volume, printed in 1794. Abridgments of this hymn, more or less varied (usually beginning "Beyond the glittering starry skies"), occur in several modern hymn-books; one of the first of them appeared in Dr. Rippon's own Collection.

The following is from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1892, 1907).

Beyond the glittering, starry globes. J. Fanch. [Ascension.] This hymn appeared in the Gospel Magazine, June, 1776. It was signed "F.," i.e. Fanch, and is as follows:—

Christ seen of Angels: l Tim. iii., 16.

1. "Beyond the glitt'ring starry globes,
Far as th’ eternal hills,
There, in the boundless worlds of light,
Our great Redeemer dwells.

2. "Legions of angels, strong and fair,
In countless armys shine.
At his right hand, with golden harps
To offer songs divine.

3. “Hail, Prince!' (they cry) ‘for ever hail!
Whose unexampled love,
Mov'd Thee to quit these glorious realms,
And royaltys above.'

4. "Whilst He did condescend, on earth,
To suffer rude disdain;
They threw their honors at His feet,
And waited in His train.

5 "Thro' all His travels here below
They did His steps attend:
Oft gaz'd; and wonder'd where, at last,
This scene of love would end.

6. "They saw His heart transfixed with wounds,
His crimson sweat and gore:
They saw Him break the bars of death,
Which none e'er broke before.

7. "They brought His chariot from above
To bear Him to His throne;
Clapt their triumphant wings, and cry'd
‘The glorious work is done!' "

Of this text the following arrangements have come into common use:—
1. The original, slightly altered, in
Psalms & Hymns, 1776 (but omitted from the 2nd ed., 1787); De Courcy's Collection Psalms & Hymns, 4th edition, 1793, No. 254; Joseph Middleton's Hymns Psalms & Hymns, 1793, No. 277; and others.

2. "Beyond, beyond the starry skies," in Kempthorne's Psalms & Hymns, 1810, No. 85; and later works.

3. "Beyond this glittering starry sky." In Cotterill's Selection, 1810, No. 29, with omission of stanzas iii. and iv., and the addition of stanza vi. In the 8th edition, 1819, this was altered by the restoration of the original arrangement of stanzas, stanza iii. being also restored. It is found in later collections.

4. "Beyond the glittering starry skies." In Elliott's Psalms and Hymns, 1835. This is the Original text very slightly altered. It is repeated in the New Congregational Hymn Book, 1859, but attributed to Gregg in error.

The most popular forms of this hymn are centos from it in its enlarged form in 28 stanzas. This expansion by the addition of 21 stanzas was made by D. Turner (q. v.) and published in his Poems in 1794. Of these 21 stanzas, 19 are given in Lord Selborne's Book of Praise, 1862, together with the first four by Fanch slightly altered. The centos from the Fanch-Turner text are most confusing. Opening with "Beyond the glittering, starry skies," we have these groups amongst others:—

(1) Smith and Stow's Baptist Psalmist, Boston, U.S., 1813, and others. (2) Baptist Service of Song, Boston, U.S., 1871, &c. (3) Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn Book, 1866; Snepp's Songs of Grace & Glory, 1872; Hymns & Songs of Praise, N.Y., 1874, and others. (4) Baptist Psalms and Hymns, 1858. (5) Baptist Hymnal, 1879. These by no means exhaust the list; but they are sufficient to show that no arrangement nor text, other than the original, can be depended upon where accuracy is required.

Another arrangement which is somewhat popular in America is the S.M. hymn, "Beyond the starry skies." It is rewritten from the Fanch-Turner text, and amongst modern hymnals is found in The Plymouth, 1855; Hymns for Church and Home, Phila., 1860; Songs for the Sanctuary, N. Y., 1865-72; Laudes Domini, N. Y., 1884, and others.

In the American Church Pastorals, Boston, 1864, No. 168, is a cento from Turner's addition to Fanch's hymn. It begins, "Blest angels who adoring wait."

In the Baptist Register of March, 1791, the following note concerning the Fanch-Turner text is given. It is addressed to Dr. Rippon by D. Turner, and dated Feb. 22, 1791.

"As to your enquiry concerning the hymn 'Jesus Been of Angels' [this hymn], it is true, as you were told by our good brother Medley that one part of it was made by my dear friend the Rev. James Fanch, of Rumsey and the other part by me."

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