On the Mountain's
Top Appearing


On the mountain's top appearing,
Lo! the sacred herald stands,
Welcome news to Zion bearing,
Zion, long in hostile lands:
Mourning captive,
God himself shall loose thy bands,

Lo! thy sun is risen in glory,
God himself appears thy Friend;
All thy foes shall flee before thee;
Here their boasts and triumphs end:
Great deliverance
Zion's King vouchsafes to send,

Enemies no more shall trouble,
All thy wrongs shall be redressed,
For thy shame thou shalt have double,
In thy Maker's favor blest;
All thy conflicts
End in an eternal rest

These are the words of Thomas Kelly (1769-1855) written in 1802. In various hymnals the words appear altered, sometimes even appearing in four stanzas, nevertheless it's interesting to note where they differ from the words that have given many such joy to sing. What exact expectations he would have envisaged for the land of Israel when he wrote these words at the commencement of the nineteenth century is not entirely certain. Nevertheless two hundred years later we have seen that nation appear and withstand the conflicts since then, knowing that there will be a day when all conflicts will cease.

Kelly was born in Dublin, the son of an Irish judge, and he himself trained to be a lawyer. But gave this up to study the Scriptures, learn Hebrew, and become a preacher. Initially he was with the established church, but he was forced to leave and then preached in non-conformist circles, talking on subjects such as justification by faith and the doctrine of grace.

He published 765 hymns in 51 years and was unusual because he used metres not adopted by most writers of hymns. Sir John declared his hymns to be 'some of the real jewels of English hymnolgy'. One common tune for this hymn is Regent Square, but there is also an arrangement to the Israeli national anthem.

Here are some of the texts which have been and could be attributed to this hymn;

Isaiah 52:7-9 (AKJV) How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

Nahum 1:15 (AKJV) Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

Romans 10:15 (AKJV) How shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Isaiah 40:2 (AKJV) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.

Zechariah 9:12 (AKJV) Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee;

Isaiah 2:2-3 (AKJV) And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains,...and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.