FREE Pre-Release Song from Our New Album – Get it Now!

Zac HicksConvergence of Old and New in Worship, History of Worship and Church Music, Hymns Movement News & Reviews, Personal Stories & Testimonies, Songwriting, Worship Theology & Thought3 Comments

lyrics  |  about  |  video tutorial  |  lead sheet  |  chord chart


Hello, Readership.  In an effort to drum up support for our new album, Without Our Aid, we’re asking you to pass this link along to anyone and everyone you know (tweet it, FB it, email it).  We’re giving away one of our best songs on the album, “Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus,” absolutely free…we just ask that you tell others about it. 

“Hail” is probably the best all-in-one representation of the musical, philosophical, and theological aim of the Without Our Aid.  It has a live feel, energetic rhythm, great drumming, layered electrics, modern worship-styled vocal melodies, and unbeatable lyrics (I can brag, because I didn’t write them). 

GO GET THE SONG HERE (this link will only be available until Tuesday, September 13, so get it while you can!).  But also read more about it below so that you’re ready to enjoy all it has to offer.  Under the lyrics, I share the hymn’s background as well as some information about some of the musical choices made in the song’s writing. In addition, below is a video tutorial of how to play the song.  Enjoy!


Hail, Thou once despised Jesus!
Hail, Thou Galilean King!
Thou didst suffer to release us;
Thou didst free salvation bring.
Hail, Thou agonizing Savior,
Bearer of our sin and shame!
By Thy merits we find favor;
Life is given through Thy name.

Paschal Lamb, by God appointed,
All our sins on Thee were laid;
By almighty love anointed,
Thou hast full atonement made.
All Thy people are forgiven
Through the virtue of Thy blood;
Opened is the gate of heaven;
Reconciled are we with God.

Worship honor, pow’r, and blessing
Christ is worthy to receive;
Loudest praises, never ceasing,
Right it is for us to give.

Jesus, hail! enthroned in glory,
There forever to abide;
All the heav’nly hosts adore Thee,
Seated at Thy Father’s side.
There for sinners Thou art pleading; 
There Thou dost our place prepare;
Ever for us interceding
Till in glory we appear.

Worship honor, pow’r, and blessing
Christ is worthy to receive;
Loudest praises, never ceasing,
Right it is for us to give.

Help, ye bright angelic spirits,
Now your loudest anthem raise!
Help to sing of Jesus’ merits,
Help to chant Immanuel’s praise!

To Him who sits on the throne
And to the Lamb be praise
And honor and glory and power, forever!

Words: John Bakewell, 1757; alt. Martin Madan, 1760; Augustus Toplady, 1776
Music: Zac Hicks, 2009
©2011 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP)



John Bakewell (1721-1819) is noted by John Gadsby as being one of the first Methodist preachers in England, and he appears to be the original author of this hymn.  And yet, enough lines are not his own (additional lines have been added by Martin Madan shortly after its publishing, and Augustus Toplady seems to have had a hand in correcting some of its Wesleyan theology toward more Reformed ends) that this truly was a hymn written in (perhaps unintentional) collaboration.  The hymn is a song for Ascension, that period in the church calendar when Christians remember and celebrate Christ’s rising on high to be with God the Father.  Several things are noteworthy about the text.  First, it is full of rich atonement theology.  “Thou didst suffer to release us” is a line articulating the substitutionary nature of atonement.  “Paschal Lamb,” or Passover Lamb (“Paschal” is derived from the Hebrew Pesah, or “Passover”), is a title under-used in modern evangelicalism.  Second, notice its emphasis on Christ’s intercession for believers.  Verse three says about Christ at the Father’s side: “There for sinners Thou art pleading; there thou dost a place prepare; ever for us interceding; till in glory we appear.”  It is wonderful to be reminded that we have an advocate in heaven pleading our case before the righteous Lawgiver, God the Father.  Third, it is strong in connecting the worship of heaven with our own.  In fact, the final lines beseech the help of the “bright angelic spirits” (the seraphs, lit. “flaming ones”) in chanting Immanuel’s praise.

For this last reason, I saw fit to incorporate a bridge straight out of the text of Revelation 5:13.  Bakewell’s allusions are drenched in that chapter of the Apocalypse, and I thought it fitting, in the event of needing a bridge to fill out a more modern song-form.

The songwriting for this particular track is a bit ambitious (a) because of its constant mixed meter (though I’ve noticed that while it’s a bit hard for a band to immediately pick up, it’s quite naturally singable), and (b) because of the more modern melodic style.  It wouldn’t win the “melody of the year” award.  The verse opening fluctuates between three and four notes low in the vocal range, making it seem almost like it’s spoken rather than sung.  The chorus melody hikes to the top of the vocal range, making the song more of a shout.  The reasons for these melodic choices are twofold.  First, the entire concept for Without Our Aid is patterned after the mainstream modern worship songwriting style, and melodies like this one are in keeping with that idiom.  Second, this hymn is meant to be raucous.  The hymnwriter chose the words “loudest praises, without (never) ceasing” purposefully, and I believe that the high chorus is in keeping with that sentiment. 

Finally, I might mention that the song’s opening minor feel and jarring mixed meter was intended not just to be “fancy” but to convey some of the pain in the text: “despised,” “agonizing,” “bearer of our sin,” and so on.


Video Tutorial: How to Play “Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus”

3 Comments on “FREE Pre-Release Song from Our New Album – Get it Now!”

  1. The repeated phrase "to him who sits on the throne…" is among my favorite places on the album. All on earth, in the sea, in the sky are singing. I'm glad that was revealed to us!

  2. LOVE this song! my favorite on this excellent & powerful CD. Haven't put my ipod down for days….

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