Hark! ten thousand voices crying

Hark! ten thousand voices crying,
  “Lamb of God!” with one accord;
Thousand thousand saints replying,
  Wake at once the echo’ng chord.
“Praise the Lamb!” the chorus waking,
  All in heav’n together throng;
Loud and far each tongue partaking
  Rolls around the endless song.
Grateful incense this, ascending
  Ever to the Father’s throne;
Every knee to Jesus bending,
  All the mind in heav’n is one.
All the Father’s counsels claiming
  Equal honors to the Son,
All the Son’s effulgence beaming,
  Makes the Father’s glory known.
By the Spirit all pervading,
  Hosts unnumbered round the Lamb,
Crowned with light and joy unfading,
  Hail Him as the great “I AM.”
Joyful now the new creation
  Rests in undisturbed repose,
Blest in Jesus’ full salvation,
  Sorrow now nor thraldom knows.
Hark! the heavenly notes again!
  Loudly swells the song of praise;
Through creation’s vault, Amen!
  Amen! responsive joy doth raise.
Elizabeth Bunting

Nanaimo, BC, Canada

We sang it in strains of joy many times following the remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ. We look forward to that day when God will reconcile all of creation to Himself and we will join that song around the throne!! Hallelujah, Amen!!

It is rare for us to come across a hymn as great as this one. This hymn was written by J. N. Darby. Originally there were thirteen stanzas. In 1881, when he worked on this hymn with Mr. Wigram, he deleted several stanzas. Now there are only seven stanzas.

Apparently this hymn is speaking to man. Actually it is directed toward God. In singing it, we feel as if we are being lifted up to the universal stage in Revelation 4 and 5, the scene after the Lord's ascension. Here we find Golgotha, resurrection, and ascension. The heaven is filled with glory, and at the name of Jesus, ten thousand voices begin their praise, and ten thousand knees bow to worship. In the heavens, on earth, and under the earth, praises ring from all directions. The whole universe is singing praises to Him. Such grandeur and majesty are unmatched by any other song! A person with lesser capacity would not have been able to write such a hymn.

"Hark! ten thousand voices crying." These ten thousand voices came out of nowhere! It is as if a trifling believer, a little worm, a small man, is shouting at the top of his voice, "Hark! ten thousand voices are crying, 'Lamb of God!' with one accord. Listen, thousands and thousands of saints are replying." Once the Lamb of God is lifted up, there is the universal response. On the one side is the sound of praise, and on the other side is the sound of response. Ten thousand voices shout, "Worthy is the Lamb who has been slain to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing" (Rev. 5:12). Even before this sound dies out, thousands and thousands of voices join in. "And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea and all things in them" (Rev. 5:13) respond together. What is the result? "Wake at once the echo'ng chord." This sound blasts forth in unparalleled magnificence. Anyone who touches this stanza will immediately be struck by his own smallness. The very first stanza raptures him to a grand and majestic scene where ten thousand voices are crying and thousands and thousands of saints are echoing. The sound rolls majestically and endlessly to an exaltation of the Lamb of God in one accord. The very opening gives a sense of awe, of the greatness of the universal praise.

Every subsequent stanza closely follows the preceding one. "Praise the Lamb! the chorus waking." We hear the cry, "Praise the Lamb," from all directions. All of them resound, "Praise the Lamb!" It is "praise the Lamb" here and "praise the Lamb" there and everywhere. These voices come from all directions. "All in heav'n together throng." All in heaven means the whole heaven. All things there throng together to sing praises. "Loud and far each tongue partaking"—every mouth is confessing. Spontaneously this brings out Philippians 2:11: "And every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Every mouth is confessing; this is why it is "loud and far." Such endless song rolls around the whole universe. The whole universe is overflowing with this "endless song."

There are not only voices but also "grateful incense...ascending." This grateful incense is ascending "ever to the Father's throne." Not only are mouths crying, but also grateful hearts are ever ascending toward God. Not only are we crying to the Lamb with our mouths, but also our hearts are ascending to God. It is as if God's plan and the Lord's redemption have become one inseparable entity. We praise the Lamb, and we also thank God the Father. Such gratitude in praise and thanksgiving ascends to God like incense.

This praise does not stop here. The mouths are crying and shouting, but this is not all, because every knee has to bow and worship. Every knee must bow and worship the Lord. First there is "each tongue," and then there is "every knee." Spontaneously every knee bends to Jesus. On the one hand, we have thanksgiving to the Father. On the other hand, we have prostrating before the Lord. The next line is very poetic: "All the mind in heav'n is one." This is not preaching. Those with less sensitive feelings cannot touch anything here. But when a person is brought to the stage where he sees the object of every tongue's praise and every knee's worship, spontaneously he will proclaim, "How one is all the mind in heaven!" The words all...is one are very poetic.

Once the writer of the hymn touches the Father and the Son, he brings out the doctrine of the Son and the doctrine of the Father. Everything is now revealed. "All the Son's effulgence beaming,/Makes the Father's glory known." Glory is inward while effulgence is outward. What the Father has is glory. This glory of the Father becomes the effulgence in the Son. The Son's effulgence is the expression of the Father's glory. With the Father there is the glory; with the Son there is the expression of this glory. The expression is not with the Father but with the Son. "All the Father's counsels." Counsel is inward, and these counsels are "claiming equal honors to the Son." This is not the Father's act, but the Father's counsels; it is not the Father's work, but the Father's plan. He wants to reveal to man that the Son is of equal honor. The third stanza turns from the Father to the Son. The fourth stanza turns from the Son to the Father and then from the Father back to the Son; it begins with the Son and ends with the Son. In the third stanza the writer begins to touch the Son, and in the fourth stanza the Son is touched again. Here we see the doctrine concerning the Father and the Son.

Anyone who touches the Father and the Son cannot stop with the Father and the Son only. And so it continues, "By the Spirit all pervading..." The Spirit comes into play. Once the Spirit appears, the scene is turned from the Son and the Father. The Spirit is all-pervading, all-permeating, and all-inclusive. The universe is filled with the Holy Spirit.

"Hosts unnumbered...hail Him." Hosts here is a poetic expression. The heavenly angels, heavenly creatures, and unnumbered heavenly beings all hail Him. "Hail Him as the great 'I AM.'" The great 'I AM' is Jehovah (cf. Exo. 3:14; 6:2). This is truly a hymn of praise, a grand hymn of praise!

Now we have to turn to the things around us: "Joyful now the new creation/Rests in undisturbed repose." The surrounding scene is full of joy, rest, peace, and repose. Everyone is joyful, restful, undisturbed, and in repose. This is because everyone is "blest in Jesus' full salvation" and "sorrow now nor thraldom knows." All the problems have passed away.

Unconsciously, we might have tarried for too long, and so "Hark! the heavenly notes again!" Can you hear it? "Loudly swells the song of praise." The sound of praise resounds from all directions again. There is still more to hear: "Through creation's vault, Amen!" The whole universe is full of praises and amens. Every corner is crying, "Amen." Why? "Amen! responsive joy doth raise." The last amen is most poetic. It is not the amen one says after a song, but an amen that is raised in "responsive joy."

This hymn shows us a redeemed universe, the scene depicted in Revelation 4 and 5, and Philippians 2. This is the praise in eternity.