We ask for donations here just twice a year. Before you hit the "close" button, would you please consider a gift to keep Hymnary.org going? Even small amounts help, and they also let us know you're behind us and support what we do. Last year, Hymnary had 11.3 million users from 243 countries around the globe, people like you who love hymns! To serve our many, many users well takes money, and we have limited sources of revenue. This fund drive is one such source. You can make your tax-deductible contribution by sending a check to Hymnary.org at 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, or you can click the Donate button below. From the entire Hymnary.org team, our grateful thanks.

1 Corinthians 13 hymn (Tune: Londonderry Air/O Danny Boy)

You are here


Text by Rob Atkins (Wales, UK)

If we could speak all tongues of earth and heaven
but have not love our prophecy is vain;
though every mystery to us is open
to talk of love will be an empty claim.
But love is swift to clear misunderstanding,
love is not proud, insisting on display
and love is rich in patient understanding:
grant us, oh Lord of love to seek the better way.

If we should give to others when we prosper
but have not love, we fail the final test:
if we should place our substance on the altar,
our sacrifice, if boastful, is not blessed.
For love is clean and clear in its intentions,
lifts up its face to face the light of day,
love is pure harmony without pretension:
grant us, oh Lord of love to find the better way.

If by our faith we make the mountains tremble
but have not love, then nothing do we win:
we are but noisy gongs or clanging cymbals
condemned to sink to silence in the end.
But love is always faithful in rejoicing,
lifts up a song of hope that never fails
love is a choir of perfect blended voices:
grant us, oh Lord of love to choose the better way.

When we were young we fought for worldly glory,
but worldly ways in time all have to die.
We see in part as in a mirror darkly
and wait in hope for love’s bright sun to rise.
Faith, hope and love, these three remain our story
but faith and hope will vanish in the day;
as we await love’s triumph in the glory
grant us, oh Lord of love to love the better way.




I like it very much.  Is permission granted to share with others (with attribution, of course)?

thanks for your encouragement! Yes, please share freely.

…as a solo on Sunday and it was very well recieved!


Thank you so much for letting me know - that’s marvellous! Rob


That is an incredible text, thank you for writing it!

thank you for your encouragement!

I also love it. Thanks! May I use Hymnary.org's flex score system to engrave it and upload a PDF of the text set to the suggested music?

Actually, it would be helpful if you would state your intentions with respect to copyright. For example, you could say that you retain all rights or that you release it for non-commercial use via a creative commons license such as one of the ones found here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/


thank you for your encouragement. Yes, please do as you suggested. As far as copyright is concerned, the text is declared with ccli but I have given up trying to get it published and just want as many people as possible to enjoy singing it. Merry Christmas!

What should I use as a copyright notice on the score -- Public Domain?

Or, maybe this?

Copyright 2018 Rob Atkins. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.   



the second one looks best I think. Thank you very much for your interest.  Rob


I see you published this hymn on your blog back in 2016, so I presume that should be the cited copyright date, or did you write it even earlier?

the earliest I can find is 2003 

And specifically a competent copyright attorney looking for pro bono opportunities...

Copyright 2003 Rob Atkins. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  

I don't think Creative Commons licenses existed in 2003, but that's okay; the copyright itself would be common-law pending publication, and 2018 would still be when the license was applied. Not sure what the legally best way to notate that is.

In a use I made of it this evening, I used the form "Copyright 2003, 2016 Rob Atkins. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License."

If I manage to translate either of these, I may use it (both languages; three if I can get a third) in Sankta Harmonio. Assuming that doesn't clash with your intention.


That would be so marvellous. please do!  Rob


We've made a FlexScore. Enjoy!

Get it here

Very nice!

(Verse 4 is omitted from the instance and therefore the authority.)

that’s a very nice-looking score. Thank you very much indeed. rob

Verse 4 has been added.


It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing Hymnary.org or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support Hymnary.org.