In some hymnals, the editors noted that a hymn's author is unknown to them, and so this artificial "person" entry is used to reflect that fact. Obviously, the hymns attributed to "Author Unknown" "Unknown" or "Anonymous" could have been written by many people over a span of many centuries. Go to person page >
Now begin the heavenly theme. [Redeeming Love.] The authorship of this hymn is unknown. The earliest form in which it is found differs widely from that followed in modern hymnals. In 1763 it appeared in the Appendix to M. Madan's Psalms and Hymns, as No. clxxii., thus:—
"Now begin the Heav'nly Theme,
Sing aloud in Jesu's Name,
Ye, who Jesu's Kindness prove
Triumph in Redeeming Love.
“Ye, who see the Father's Grace
Beaming in the Saviour's Face
As to Canaan on ye move
Praise and bless Redeeming Love.
“Mourning Souls dry up your Tears,
Banish all your guilty Fears,
See your Guilt and Curse remove,
Cancell'd by Redeeming Love.
44 Ye, alas! who long have been
Willing Slaves of Death and Sin,
Now from Bliss no longer rove,
Stop—and taste Redeeming Love.
“Welcome all by Sin oppress,
Welcome, to his sacred Rest,
Nothing brought Him from above,
Nothing but Redeeming Love.
“He subdu'd th’ Infernal Pow'rs,
His tremendous Foes and ours
From their cursed Empire drove,
Mighty in Redeeming Love.
“Hither then your Musick bring,
Strike aloud each joyful String,
Mortals join the Hosts above,
Join to praise Redeeming Love."
In this form, or with alterations, the hymn appeared in about fifty collections between 1763 and 1833, and in all it was given anonymously, except in that of Dobell, 1806, who quoted it as from "Langford's Collection” This reference is to the Hymns and Spiritual Songs published by John Langford (p. 639, ii.) in 1776, and in which the hymn appeared. In Langford’s 2nd edition he marked all his own hymns with an asterisk, but this hymn is unmarked. This is clear evidence against his authorship. The error of ascribing the hymn to Langford arose through the careless editing of E. Bickersteth, who in the Index of his Christian Psalmody, 1833, gave the hymn as "Now begin the, Langford." This was copied by later compilers, some expanding the name into "John Langford,” and others into "William Langford," and all basing their guesses on an error. The earliest date to which it has been traced is Madan's Appendix, 1763. Failing evidence that it was written by Madan, we must give it as Anon. No. 982, in Kennedy, 1863, "Now the heavenly joy proclaim," is an altered form of this hymn.