Now begin the heavenly theme
Now begin the heavenly theme is a hymn of unknown authorship, which has been attributed to authors including Martin Madan and John Langford. It was included as hymn 69 in John Rippon's Selection of Hymns. "The authorship of this hymn is unknown. The earliest form in which it is found differs widely from that followed in modern hymnals. In 1763 it appeared in the Appendix to M. Madan's Psalms and Hymns, as No. 172… The hymn appeared in about fifty collections between 1763 and 1833, and in all it was given anonymously, except in that of Dobell, 1806, who quoted it as from Langford's Collection This reference is to the Hymns and Spiritual Songs published by John Langford (p. 639, ii.) in 1776, and in which the hymn appeared. In Langford's 2nd edition he marked all his own hymns with an asterisk, but this hymn is unmarked. This is clear evidence against his authorship."
The original meter of this hymn is 77. 77. Jeremiah Ingalls amended this to 88. 88. (L. M.), by adding a syllable to each line.
Settings by composers
- Thomas Clark — Now begin the heavenly theme (Baltistan) SATB
- Thomas Clark — Now begin the heavenly theme (Barham) SATB
- Thomas Clark — Now begin the heavenly theme (Burton) SATB
- Jeremiah Ingalls — Redeeming Love STB
- Thomas Jarman — Now begin the heavenly theme (Triumph) SATB
- Benjamin Milgrove — Now begin the heav'nly theme SATB
- Daniel Read — Newark SATB
Text and translations
Rippon's Selection, 1787
Jeremiah Ingalls, 1805