Music

“Hail Immanuel!”, Hymn by Rev. Rowland Hill to the tune of “Rule Britannia”

Surrey Chapel, London, England, from 19thcenturyphotos.com

Rowland Hill, the blessed minister at Surrey Chapel, was one of the greatest gospel preachers of 19th century England.  He set the popular tune to the British national air “Rule Britannia” to a hymn entitled “Hail, Immanuel”, having remarked, “why should the devil have all the good tunes?”  Its words ironically mimic the patriotic air.  Hill wanted the English people to know that their real strength lie only in the will and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ who rules the universe.  The organ playing at Surrey Chapel must have caused many passers by outside to pause hearing this grand hymn.  I’ve finally found the text of this hymn is found in James Sherman’s Memoir of Rowland Hill:


The musical air “Rule Britannia!” can be heard as sung at the BBC proms in 2009:

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