The College Anthem: iii - John Marriott's words
At right are the evangelical words of Hymn 240 in the Presbyterian hymnal: The Church of God, as written by John Marriott (1780-1825) in 1813 for an earlier melody, Moscow.

Marriott was an Anglican priest and rector in Devonshire. He wrote several hymns of which Thou Whose Almighty Word is the best-known, having been translated into several languages. Marriott undoubtedly drew from earlier words written to the tune Moscow, entitled Come Thou Almighty King. If so, his purpose, successfully achieved, was to recast the trinity concept of the earlier piece into a more purposeful evangelical inspiration. Although Marriott is virtually unknown as a writer outside of the church, this work is a well-crafted poem, and is still a popular item in present-day hymnaries. A hit, as it were.

The central image on which the poem is based is that of light and dark, representing truth and ignorance, with Christ (the Dove) and the Holy Trinity dispelling chaos and ignorance with their holy light. In this the poet draws not only on archetypal human metaphors for good and evil, truth and despair, extending beyond the Christian view, but he specifically links to the book of Genesis with his invocation to God to move upon the face of dark waters, and repeat the miracle of creation.

It is easy to see how this powerful image would speak to a dedicated missionary, and how in Trinidad the missionaries' own work could be identified with it. Marriot supplements the light-dark contrast with one of health and sickness, a yet more powerful appeal to a missionary who was also trained in the medical field. Little wonder that Mrs Walls was inspired by this particular hymn when she decided to write words that would describe the essence of Naparima College!

Come Thou Almighty King

This anonymous verse (1757) echoes God Save The King (1742) and was originally sung to that same tune. (It wasn't unusual to have several word versions for an identical tune: in the early years of the 19th century, the tune of God Save The King was also used for national anthems in Denmark, Sweden, some German states, the U.S. - and still is today for Liechtenstein. The British invented the idea of a national anthem with the 1742 piece - they were approaching the height of their imperial glory, shortly to humble their French rivals in the Seven Years' War ending in 1763 - and other european nations were eager to copy them, without quite realizing they needed their own tune, too).

Marriott (1813) recast its message into the new poem above. By then the Giardini (NC) melody (1769) had already displaced the national anthem tune and therefore accompanied Marriott's new words into the twentieth century as The Church of God.

"Come Thou Almighty King" was not eclipsed as such - with the same Giardini (NC) melody, it too lives today in its own right in the hymn-books of many denominations.
"Thou Whose Almighty Word"
John Marriott

Thou, whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard
And took their flight
Hear us, we humbly pray,
And, where the gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray,
Let there be light.

Thou, who didst come to bring
On Thy redeeming wing,
healing and right
Health to the sick in mind
Sight to the inly blind
O now to all mankind
Let there be light.

Spirit of truth and love
Life-giving holy Dove,
Speed forth thy flight
Move o'er the waters' face
Bearing the lamp of grace
And in earth's darkest place
Let there be light

Blessed and holy three
Glorious Trinity
Wisdom. Love, and Might
Boundless as ocean's tide
Rolling in fullest pride
Through this world far and wide,
Let there be light.

Come Thou Almighty King:
...1st verse...

Come Thou Almighty King
Help us Thy name to sing
Help us to praise
Father, all-glorious,
O'er all victorious
Come and reign over us
Ancient of Days


Music Notation of "Church of God" (.pdf)
Main NC-Forever Page