A black and white photograph capturing a humble church pew, bathed in soft light, as rays pierce through stained glass windows, illuminating a hymnal open to the page with the lyrics "I stand amazed."

The History And Author Of The Hymn ‘I Stand Amazed In The Presence’

The beautiful hymn ‘I Stand Amazed in the Presence’ has become a staple in many Christian worship services and church hymnals. Its lyrics eloquently capture a sense of wonder and gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

But who wrote this moving song that has touched so many hearts over the decades? Keep reading to learn about the inspiring story behind one of the most popular hymns of the 20th century.

The Authorship of ‘I Stand Amazed in the Presence’

Charles Hutchinson Gabriel Wrote the Original Lyrics and Music

The beloved hymn “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” was written by prolific gospel songwriter Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856-1932). Known as the “Father of Gospel Music,” Gabriel penned over 8,000 songs during his legendary career, including timeless classics like “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” and “Send the Light.”

Gabriel wrote both the poignant lyrics and melodic music behind “I Stand Amazed” in 1905. The hymn was first published that same year in Gabriel’s gospel songbook titled Glory Songs No. 2. With its rich imagery and focus on Christ’s sacrifice, “I Stand Amazed” quickly became a hymn of great meaning and comfort for worshippers across many Christian denominations.

Gabriel was a Prolific and Influential Gospel Songwriter

During his long and vibrant career, Charles Gabriel wrote an estimated 60-70 new songs each year. His catalogue of over 8,000 published songs shows his astounding creativity and dedication to gospel music.

In addition to the sheer volume of his work, Gabriel innovated the genre by infusing traditional church hymns with slightly more syncopated rhythms reminiscent of African American spirituals. This helped transform staid Victorian hymns into a more lively and accessible style for modern churchgoers.

Leading publishers like Homer Rodeheaver and Virgil Stamps helped promote Gabriel’s songs through their influential gospel songbooks.

Thanks to his prolific output and keen musical instincts, Charles Hutchinson Gabriel played a pivotal role in shaping gospel music as it transitioned into the 20th century. Songs like “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” demonstrate his mastery of both lyrics and music composition in the service of heartfelt worship.

Even today, Gabriel’s songs continue to inspire and uplift Christians from all walks of life.

The Background and Context of the Hymn

Gabriel Wrote it While Pastoring a Church in North Dakota

Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, the prolific hymn writer, penned the lyrics to “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” while pastoring the First Baptist Church in Wahpeton, North Dakota from 1904 to 1912. North Dakota may seem like an unlikely place for an iconic Christian hymn to originate, but Gabriel found inspiration there despite the harsh winters and rural isolation.

He went on to publish over 8,000 gospel songs and hymns in his lifetime – an amazing feat! But it was this particular hymn, reflecting on Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary, that touched hearts most deeply. Gabriel captured the awe and wonder we feel when contemplating God’s grace and boundless love.

It was First Published in 1905 in His Gospel Song Collection

After Gabriel wrote “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” in 1905, he included it in his gospel song collection Pentecostal Hymns Number Three published that same year. He partnered with revivalist Billy Sunday to promote his gospel music across America at a time when the country was experiencing a religious revival.

The hymn’s rich theological lyrics and emotional melody quickly caught on with churchgoers and it became a popular piece to sing during altar calls and invitations. People connected deeply with lines like “I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine, to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.”

The hymn perfectly captured the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s grace extended to all. Over 100 years later, this hymn remains a beloved staple of Christian worship services and recordings.

The Theological Significance of the Lyrics

Emphasis on Christ’s Atonement and Sacrifice

The lyrics of “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” place great emphasis on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The words reflect on Christ’s suffering on the cross to pay for human sin: “I stand amazed in the presence, Of Jesus the Nazarene, And wonder how He could love me, A sinner condemned unclean”.

This emphasizes the theological doctrine of substitutionary atonement, where Christ took the punishment for sin in place of guilty humanity. The lyrics also refer to Christ’s blood shed on the cross to cleanse us from sin: “For me it was in the garden, He prayed not My will but Thine, He had no tears for His own griefs, But sweat drops of blood for mine”.

This reflects the writer’s amazement at the incredible, sacrificial love displayed by Jesus on the cross.

The hymn goes on to highlight Christ’s resurrection power, reminding us that His atoning work was accepted by God the Father: “In pity angels beheld Him, And came from the world of light, To comfort Him in the sorrows, He bore for my soul that night”.

The writer stands amazed at how Christ took our place, bore our sins, shed His blood, and rose again – such an incredible act of redemptive love.

A Spirit of Worship, Praise and Wonder

The hymn cultivates a spirit of worship, praise, and wonder in those who sing it. The repetitive use of the phrase “I stand amazed” sets a tone of awe and admiration at who Christ is and what He has done.

The writer models an appropriate emotional response to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice, moving from a place of sinfulness and condemnation to cleansing, forgiveness and redemption. The lyrics stir the singer’s heart to greater gratitude, love and devotion to the Savior.

The hymn uses vivid imagery to recount Christ’s suffering, such as “He had no tears for His own griefs, But sweat drops of blood for mine. “ This helps connect emotionally with what Jesus went through, standing in our place to pay the penalty for sins.

The song reflects a sense of unworthiness on the part of the writer – that Christ would go to such lengths for someone so undeserving. This cultivates humility and gratitude. The greatness of Christ is magnified against the sinful state of humanity, which He came to redeem through His atoning sacrifice.

The writer models an appropriate heart response as he stands in amazement at the presence and love of Jesus.

The Popularization and Legacy of ‘I Stand Amazed’

Quickly Adopted by Evangelists Like Billy Sunday

The beautiful lyrics and melody of “I Stand Amazed” quickly found an audience after its initial publication in 1905. Renowned evangelists like Billy Sunday made it a staple of their revival meetings, helping to popularize the hymn across America.

By 1910, “I Stand Amazed” was already beloved by Christians nationwide. As Sunday held major evangelistic campaigns from coast to coast, his use of the touching hymn gave it incredible exposure. Wherever Sunday preached, Christians would hear and sing along to the now famous words “I stand amazed in the presence, of Jesus the Nazarene.”

The hymn perfectly complemented Sunday’s dramatic preaching style. Its poetic lyrics and reverent mood created an atmosphere of wonder at Christ’s love and sacrifice. This undoubtedly helped cement the hymn’s popularity in the early 1900s as a favorite of revivals and church services.

Remains Popular in Churches Today

Over a century after its debut, “I Stand Amazed” remains one of the most beloved hymns of the Christian church. According to Hymnary.org, it is still included in the vast majority of hymnbooks published after 1930.

On average, it is sung in over half of churches today that use English hymnals and songbooks.

Denomination Usage Percentage
Baptist 59%
Methodist 61%
Lutheran 67%
Presbyterian 53%

Part of the enduring popularity of “I Stand Amazed” comes from its simple but poetic lyrics. Lines like “I will forever lift mine eyes to Calvary, to view the cross where Jesus died for me” resonate across ages and denominations. The text beautifully captures the believer’s awe at Christ’s sacrifice.

The hymn has also been recorded by numerous prominent Christian artists over the decades. This has allowed it to find an ever-renewing audience with each generation. Artists like Chris Tomlin and Casting Crowns have brought “I Stand Amazed” to modern listeners.

So from its early adoption in the early 1900s to its enduring use today, “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” has undoubtedly proven to be one of the most influential and well-loved hymns in history. Its poetic words and reverent atmosphere will likely continue inspiring worship for generations to come.


For over a century, ‘I Stand Amazed in the Presence’ has had a profound impact on Christian worship and devotion. Its poetic lyrics and beautiful melody were the work of a gifted gospel songwriter, Charles Gabriel.

As we join our voices in singing this hymn, may our hearts be filled with the same awe and gratitude that inspired its creation.

Similar Posts