In the Secret

Released May 2017

Sleeve Notes

Born to Officer parents in 1886, Albert Orsborn was dedicated in Maidstone by the Founder, William Booth. His interest in poetry developed from the age of 13 partly inspired by the bookstalls he visited on his way to work as an office boy at the International Headquarters of The Salvation Army. 

Albert was devoted to poetry and the inspiration of songs came to him through a variety of events in his life; it was to his first wife Eva Barker, that Albert later acknowledged where the passion of his poetry became its most powerful.

When inspiration came, Albert always felt the presence of God. This he said was evident when he penned In The Secret Of Thy Presence. When asked to write a new song for Officers’ Councils, at the start there was no inspiration. The next day he stirred at 5.30am with a real sense of purpose. He later recorded in his autobiography The house of my Pilgrimage, ‘I just had to catch the inspiration and write the words down.’

Albert wrote more than 250 songs and choosing 14 for this recording was not easy; all 33 in The Salvation Army Songbook have a profound message. Each word, verse and song has a purpose that he had prayfully worked to create.

Of all the songs Albert wrote I Know Thee Who Thou Art is the one that stood out for him: ‘The words had initially come after a challenging time, yet once the theme got started, I could not stop it flowing. The last verse is my favourite which I often sing to myself as a silent prayer.’

To acknowledge the wealth of verse provided by the General, this CD compiles 14 of his best loved songs, Eric Tebbett is accompanied on the album by Elliot Launn (Piano), Claire Lawrence (Flute and Violin), Alexandra Whittingham (Classical Guitar) and Lisa Stonham (Cor Anglais).


Track Listing

Greater Things (SASB 525)

Dating back to 1908, when Albert Orsborn was just 22, this is amongst the oldest of his songs in the current Salvation Army Song Book. He was a young Captain stationed at Lowestoft II Corps with a fellow officer, a Lieutenant. After a successful summer season, the winter months brought no visitors and the congregations were smaller and both Corps and Officers became discouraged.

One day in their morning during prayers, the Lieutenant prayed "Give us, O Lord, faith for greater things." Immediately afterwards the inspiration for a song was born. Originally beginning 'What a work our God hath done' it was published first in the Field Officer in 1909 under the title 'Faith for greater things' and then later in the Musical Salvationist, March 1924, before inclusion in The Salvation Army Song Book in 1930.

Written to be used with the tune to Love at Home written by John Hugh McNaughton, an American of Scottish descent. This arrangement is from Lyle Hadlock. Born and raised in Utah County Lyle is the youngest  of 10 children. Besides music, he enjoys baseball and regularly plays piano at his local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

What a work the Lord has done
By his saving grace;  
Let us praise him, every one,
In this holy place.  
He has saved us gloriously,  
Led us onward faithfully,
Yet he promised we should see  
Even greater things.

Greater things! Greater things!
Give us faith , O Lord, we pray,
Faith for greater things.

Sanctify thy name, O Lord,
By thy people here,
For the alter or the sword!
Save us from our fear
When the battle rages fast;
Help us in the fiery blast,
Let us not be overcast,
Prove thy greater things.

Every comrade, Lord, we pray,
Thou wilt richly bless;
Lead us forth into the fray,
One in holiness,
One in faith and harmony,
One in perfect charity;
Then we know that we shall see
Even greater things.

Shepherd, hear my prayer (SASB 794)

This song was written in the 1930’s and appeared in The Salvation Army Song Book in 1961. During the 1930s Albert Orsborn was the Chief Secretary in New Zealand, the land where sheep out number human inhabitants. Not surprisingly he wrote this song Unto Thee will I cry, Shepherd, hear my prayer.

Originally set to a Maori melody, the Musical Salvationist published the song for Songster Brigades in 1946 to a new melody by Ernest Rance. However, the melody is not well suited to congregational singing but often featured as a vocal solo. Ray Steadman-Allen featured the melody in one of his earliest compositions, In Quiet Pastures.

Unto thee will I cry,
Shepherd, hear my prayer!
Poor and needy am I,
Shepherd, hear my prayer!
Deep is calling unto deep.
Rugged are the heights, and steep;
Guide my steps and keep;
Hear, O hear my prayer!
Hear, O hear my prayer!

Where the tempest is loud,
Shepherd, hear my prayer!
'Mid the darkness and cloud,
Shepherd, hear my prayer
Let me hear thy voice afar,
Coming with the morning star;
True thy mercies are!
Hear, O hear my prayer!
Hear, O hear my prayer!

Let the foe not prevail,
Shepherd, hear my prayer!
My resources would fail,
Shepherd, hear my prayer!
Order all my steps aright,
Carry me from height to height;
Yonder shines the light!
Shepherd, lead me there!
Lead me safely there!

All my work is for the Master (SASB 67)

The Vacant Chair is the tune which Orsborn had in mind for this song as he did for In the secret of Thy Presence, and it is still the most commonly used tune for this song. The tune is a rather poignant song of the American War of Independence, reflecting on the loss of a family member as it gathers for a prayer before a meal. Containing the words We shall meet, but we shall miss him, there will be one vacant chair.

Orsborn wrote the words in 1922 when as a patient in the Officers’ Nursing Home, Highbury, London. He had been there some time and his spirit was rebellious because of some plans he did not agree with. On hearing a group of Salvationists singing nearby the words, Nothing from his Altar would I keep he was deeply moved, and he submitted himself again to the Holy Spirit. This song was born from this experience.

Saviour, if my feet have faltered
On the pathway of the cross,
If my purposes have altered
Or my gold be mixed with dross,
O forbid me not thy service,
Keep me yet in thy employ.
Pass me through a sterner cleansing
If I may but give thee joy!

All my work is for the Master,
He is all my heart's desire;
O that he may count me faithful
In the day that tries by fire!

Have I worked for hireling wages,
Or as one with vows to keep,
With a heart whose love engages
Life or death, to save the sheep?
All is known to thee, my Master,
All is known, and that is why
I can work and wait the verdict
Of thy kind but searching eye.

I must love thee, love must rule me,
Springing up and flowing forth
From a childlike heart within me,
Or my work is nothing worth.
Love with passion and with patience,
Love with principle and fire,
Love with heart and mind and utterance,
Serving Christ my one desire.

The Saviour of Men (SASB 626)

When just a Junior Officer the writing skills of Albert Orsborn were not going unnoticed by the higher echelons of The Salvation Army. He was asked by Commissioner James Hay if he had ever considered writing words to an Irish folk song 'The Old Rustic Bridge,' which he more or less took as an instruction to do so. It took him much time and trouble, but in 1922, he was inspired to write the words, affected by the number of derelict churches and the unchurched for whom the Army was born.

It took him much time before he was satisfied with the words of the refrain. His mental labour was well rewarded for the words 'Except I am moved with compassion, How dwelleth thy Spirit in me?' have as much relevance today as when they were written. The song was first used at Officers’ Councils at Swanwick and was published in The War Cry in December 1922. It first appeared in The Salvation Army Song Book in 1930.

Eric is accompanied by Alexandra on Classical Guitar on this track.


The Saviour of men came to seek and to save
The souls who were lost to the good;
His Spirit was moved for the world which he loved
With the boundless compassion of God.
And still there are fields where the laborers are few,
And still there are souls without bread,
And still eyes that weep where the darkness is deep,
And still straying sheep to be led.

Except I am moved with compassion,
How dwelleth thy Spirit in me?
In word and in deed
Burning love is my need;
I know I can find this in thee.

O is not the Christ 'midst the crowd of today
Whose questioning cries do not cease?
And will he not show to the hearts that would know
The things that belong to their peace?
But how shall they hear if the preacher forbear
Or lack in compassionate zeal?
Or how shall hearts move with the Master's own love,
Without his anointing and seal?

It is not with might to establish the right,
Nor yet with the wise to give rest;
The mind cannot show what the heart longs to know
Nor comfort a people distressed.
O Saviour of men, touch my spirit again,
And grant that thy servant may be
Intense every day, as I labor and pray,
Both instant and constant for thee.

O Love upon a Cross impaled (SASB 189)

Albert Orsborn retired in the May 1954, settled in Bournemouth and became a member of Boscombe Corps. The Corps started an Easter Convention at which the retired General preached twice on Good Friday and again on Easter Day. Always supported by a visiting musical section the Easter Convention continues to this day.

The Retired General preached for each of his 12 years of retirement before he died in February 1967. He wrote a new Good Friday song for every one of those years. However, the song also appeared on an order of service for 'A day at teh cross' at Camberwell Citadel on Good Friday 1960 and described as 'A new Easter song by General Albert Orsborn (R).

This songs is the only one of songs he wrote for the Good Friday meetings at Boscombe that found its way into The Salvation Army Song Book. The main tune used is based on a melody from the Magic Flute and is aptly named Mozart in The Salvation Army Tune Book.

For this track the original setting from the Opera is used.

O love upon a cross impaled,
My contrite heart is drawn to thee;
Are thine the hands my pride has nailed,
And thine the sorrows borne for me?
Are such the wounds my sin decrees?
I fall in shame upon my knees.

'Twere not for sinners such as I
To gaze upon thy sore distress,
Or comprehend thy bitter cry
Of God-forsaken loneliness.
I shelter from such agonies
Beneath thy cross, upon my knees.

Forgive! Forgive! I hear thee plead;
And me forgive! I instant cry.
For me thy wounds shall intercede,
For me thy prayer shall make reply;
I take the grace that flows from these,
In saving faith, upon my knees.

Now take thy throne, O Crucified,
And be my love-anointed King!
The weapons of my sinful pride
Are broken by thy suffering.
A captive to love's victories,
I yield, I yield upon my knees.

In the secret of Thy presence (SASB 766)

In 1930 Albert Orsborn was Divisional Commander in Norwich. It was then he was asked by Commissioner Rich, then Chief Secretary at THQ, to write a new song for Officers’ Councils to be conducted by Mrs Bramwell Booth. By the start of the Councils he had received no inspiration. The next day he stirred at 5.30am with a real sense of the presence of God and by candlelight, started writing the words of this song. In his autobiography, “The House of my Pilgrimage, Albert Orsborn says “I just had to catch the inspiration and write the words down which came to me quite easily.”

Orsborn considered this to be amongst the best words he wrote. It was originally sung to the tune The vacant chair but later, Eric Ball wrote a new melody In the secret of Thy presence published for women’s voices and then later arranged for Songster Brigades.

On this album we introduce a new musical setting from the pen of Darlene Overstake published in New Songs for Women’s Voices in October 1986. For this recording a flute played by Claire Lawrence has been added.

In the secret of thy presence,
Where the pure in heart may dwell,
Are the springs of sacred service
And a power that none can tell.
There my love must bring its offering,
There my heart must yield its praise,
And the Lord will come, revealing
All the secrets of his ways.

In the secret of thy presence,
In the hiding of thy power,
Let me love thee, let me serve thee,
Every consecrated hour.

More than all my lips may utter,
More than all I do or bring,
Is the depth of my devotion
To my Saviour, Lord and King.
Nothing less will keep me tender;
Nothing less will keep me true;
Nothing less will keep the fragrance
And the bloom on all I do!

Blessed Lord, to see thee truly,
Then to tell as I have seen,
This shall rule my life supremely,
This shall be the sacred gleam.
Sealed again is all the sealing,
Pledged again my willing heart,
First to know thee, then to serve thee,
Then to see thee as thou art.

My life must be Christ’s broken bread (SASB 610)

Inspired by a journey made to war torn Berlin as the International Leader of The Salvation Army in 1947, Orsborn was so overwhelmed by the affects of the war on fellow Salvationists and was burdened by a sense of his own inadequacy, and resolved "For their sakes, I sanctify myself."

The words of the song began to form in his mind as he journeyed to Holland and was completed soon after he had arrived back in the UK. Published in the War Cry in 1947 it then appeared in the 1961 edition of The Salvation Army Song Book. Generally regarded as one of Orsborn’s classics it is normally sung to a melody of the German composer Louis Sphor (1784 – 1859).

This track is one of the new musical settings used on the recording from Barrie Gott. Originally published in Sing to the Lord, this arrangement was adapted for solo voice.

My life must be Christ's broken bread,
My love his outpoured wine,
A cup o'er filled, a table spread
Beneath his name and sign.
That other souls, refreshed and fed,
May share his life through mine.

My all is in the Master's hands
For him to bless and break;
Beyond the brook his winepress stands
And thence my way I take,
Resolved the whole of love's demands
To give, for his dear sake.

Lord, let me share that grace of thine
Where with thou didst sustain
The burden of the fruitful vine,
The gift of buried grain.
Who dies with thee, O Word divine,
Shall rise and live again.

The Well is deep (SASB 430)

Written for the melody 'The voice of the Old Village Choir' this is one of Albert Orsborn’s later songs. Based on the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan women at the well. It was published for Songster Brigades in 1981 and appeared in the 1986 Salvation Army Song Book for congregational use. The tune is from a most prolific American popular song writer, whose other compositions include I’m looking over a four leaf clover and The red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbing along.

Life is a journey; long is the road,
And when the noontide is high
Souls that are weary faint 'neath their load,
Long for the waters, and cry:

The well is deep and I require
A draught of the water of life,
But none can quench my soul's desire
For a draught Or the water of life;
Till one draws near who the cry will heed,
Helper of men in their time of need,
And I, believing, find indeed
That Christ is the water of life.

Life is a seeking, life is a quest,
Eager and longing desire;
Unto the true things, unto the best,
Godward our spirits aspire.

Life is a finding; vain wand'rings cease
When from the Saviour we claim
All we have longed for, solace and peace,
And we have life in his name.

I have no claim on Grace (SASB 463)

In 1916 Albert Orsborn was travelling home from the East End of London on a bus having attended an inspiring meeting. A zeppelin raid was in progress, but he was deep in thought. He was still experiencing the joy from the meeting and the words of this song came to him. He had no pencil and paper to write them down and had to keep the words in his mind until he reached home, where he wrote them down before taking off his coat. 

The song later appeared in The Beauty of Jesus, a 1947 collection of the author's songs and poems, and in The Salvation Army song book in 1953.

The tune Nearer Home by Woodbury is also associated with the words For ever with the Lord. This arrangement is by Sir Arthur Sullivan.

I have no claim on grace;
I have no right to plead;
I stand before my maker's face
Condemned in thought and deed.
But since there died a Lamb
Who, guiltless, my guilt bore,
I lay fast hold on Jesus' name,
And sin is mine no more.

From whence my soul's distress
But from the hold of sin?
And whence my hope of righteousness
But from thy grace within?
I speak to thee my need
And tell my true complaint;
Thou only canst convert indeed
A sinner to a saint.

O pardon-speaking blood!
O soul-renewing grace!
Through Christ I know the love of God
And see the Father's face.
I now set forth thy praise,
Thy loyal servant I,
And gladly dedicate my days
My God to glorify.

Sacred Hands of Jesus (SASB 195)

Written for a Cadets’ holiness meeting, conducted by General Edward Higgins in 1932, the song was published in the American War Cry soon afterwards. Its general availability for congregational use however came about when it was published in the 1986 Salvation Army Song Book.

Perhaps the melody Loves Old Sweet Song to which the words were set was not deemed suitable, for it was a 19 th Century Irish Folk Song, which had been recorded by many great artists, including John McCormack and Dame Clara Butt. The words of the refrain as the song was written are Just a song at Twilight when the lights are low. Albert Orsborn sanctified this attractive melody with another classic Passiontide song, with the refrain Sacred Hands of Jesus, they were bound for me.

Once, on a day, was Christ led forth to die,
And with the crowd that pressed on him joined I.
Slowly they led him, led him to the tree,
And I beheld his hands no more were free.
Bound fast with cords, and this was his distress,
That men denied those hands outstretched to bless.

Sacred hands of Jesus, they were bound for me;
Wounded hands of Jesus, stretched upon a tree,
Ever interceding, mercy is their plea.
Their effectual pleading brings grace to me,
Redeeming grace to me.

Hands that were scarred by daily fret and tear;
Hands quick to sooth the troubled brow of care;
Hands strong to smite the sins that men enthrone,
Yet never raised to seek or claim their own:
Dear hands of Christ! and yet men feared them so
That they must bind them as to death they go.

Hands that still break to men the living bread;
Hands full of power to raise again the dead,
Potent and healing, eager to reclaim,
Laid in forgiveness on one bowed in shame;
Say, wouldst thou bind, by pride and unbelief,
Those hands that compass all thy soul's relief?

He came right down to me (SASB 157)

Although this song was written early enough to be included in the War Cry in 1931 with the title: In Childlike Speech and in an further article, Love Came down in the War Cry 24th December 1949, Albert Orsborn said the chorus came to his mind many years before, when he was walking through a London park on his way to a meeting. He said 'It was very near the Christmas season. Meditating on the wonder of His coming, and having in my head at the same time a little French tune, I sang aloud: He came right down to me'. It was a further 55 years until the song was included in the 1986 edition of The Salvation Army Song Book. 

When wondrous words my Lord would say,
That I unto his mind may reach,
He chooses out a lowly way,
And robes his thoughts in childlike speech.

He came right down to me,
He came right down to me,
To condescend to be my friend,
He came right down to me.

The voice divine, those accents dear
I languished for, yet had not heard
Till Jesus came with message clear,
And brought to me the living word.

Nor could I see my maker's face,
Veiled from my sight his far abode,
Till Christ made known the Father's grace,
And shared with men their heavy load.

O Vision clear! O Voice divine!
Dear Son of God and Son of man!
Let all thy gifts of grace be mine;
Complete in me thy perfect plan.

The Calvary Track (SASB 79)

In 1942, whilst British Commissioner, sitting at home this song was penned after Albert had suffered a server bereavement. He wrote "I have been permitted to endure extremely heavy and bitter sorrows. Once the theme got started, it bore me along, excited and full of praise! I could not stop it flowing."

Originally there were only three verses (1, 2 and 4), written to be sung to the tune St John (SATB 205) and used at the Day of Renewal meetings he led as General at the Central Hall, Westminster, in 1949 and printed in the War Cry, 5 November of the same year.

The complete song, with an additional verse and the author's tune 'Brantwood' was published in The Musical Salvationist, May-June 1950. The final verse originally concluded 'And find I am expected there', but Albert later confessed he preferred the words in the song book 'And find my name is written there'. In his autobiography he went on to conclude "It is the song of which the last verse is my favourite which I often sing to myself as a silent prayer."

In 1977 for the Royal Silver Jubilee Festival at the Royal Albert Hall, Norman Bearcroft provided an arrangement for male voices and the ISB. The arrangement for this recording is a transcription from the band score. The opening bars originally played by a solo cornet is on this track played by Lisa Stonham on Cor Anglais.

I know thee who thou art,
And what thy healing name;
For when my fainting heart
The burden nigh o'ercame,
I saw thy footprints on my road
Where lately passed the Son of God.

Thy name is joined with mine
By every human tie,
And my new name is thine,
A child of God am I;
And never more alone, since thou
Art on the road beside me now.

Beside thee as I walk,
I will delight in thee
In sweet communion talk
Of all thou art to me;
The beauty of thy face behold
And know thy mercies manifold.

Let nothing draw me back
Or turn my heart from thee,
But by the Calvary track
Bring me at last to see
The courts of God, that city fair,
And find my name is written there.

On every Hill (SASB 470)

The words of this song were written at the request of General Evangeline Booth for the World for God campaign in 1935/36, but as Albert Orsborn says in his autobiography, “It did not please her. I had other misfortunes in the song-writing line, but I did not mind. I just kept on trying”.

The words were published in 1947 in a collection of songs and poems by Albert Orsborn. It did not appear in The Salvation Army Song Book until the 1986 edition. The melody suggested in the song book is Deep Harmony (SATB 10) or He wipes the tear (SATB 54), combining two verses and for which an optional refrain is provided which was originally the fifth verse.

The accompaniment of classical guitar played by Alexandra Whittingham brings new life to the most popular tune Deep Harmony.

On every hill our Saviour dies,
And not on Calvary's height alone;
His sorrows darken all our skies,
His griefs for all our wrongs atone.

Present he is in all our woes,
Upon a world-wide cross is hung;
And with exceeding bitter throes
His world-embracing heart is wrung.

In us his love invested is,
God cannot pass a suppliant by;
For heard in God's eternities
Our prayers repeat the Saviour's cry.

And for the sake of that dear name
With which all hope of good is given,
Our heavy load of sin and shame
The Father clears, and cries: Forgiven!

Thine is the name (SASB 735)

The words came to Albert Orsborn as he was travelling between by car between home and office at Denmark Hill (c1948-52) after he had been trying to show an unhappy, frustrated young man how Christ could help him become a fully integrated person.

The opening line echoes the words of the centurion who said to Jesus, 'But say the word, and my servant shall be healed' (Luke 7:7). The song was printed on a leaflet of Songs for meetings conducted by General Albert Orsborn at Royal Festival Hall in February 1952. It was later published in the 1953 version of The Salvation Army Song Book and written to be used with the tune Hold Thou my Hand.

Eric Ball's mediation based on the tune Hold thou my Hand was published for bands in 1941 and is still a favourite by many bandsmen and listeners alike. The arrangement for this recording is a direct transcription from the band score.

Say but the word, thy servant shall be healed,
I shall be loosed from my infirmity;
And, once again, the fount of life unsealed
Shall upward spring and flow eternally.

Vainly I seek a cure for my soul's ailing,
Vainly aspire to reach the life divine;
Slave of myself, myself for ever failing,
Helpless am I until thy grace be mine.

I dare not ask as though by right of pleading;
Only my need lays hold upon thy name;
Yet none can cry and find thy love unheeding,
And none need fail thy saving grace to claim.

Thine is the name whereon I cry, believing;
Thine is the love that sees and pities me;
Thine is the power and mine the faith receiving
Cleansing and healing, life and liberty.

Gallery for In the Secret

Bonus Material

The copyright of this photograph belongs to The Salvation Army who gave permission for Citadel Promotions to use in promoting this recording.

Artists involved in the production

Profile - Eric Tebbett

Eric Tebbett


From working with Music Services and being Director of Music in an independent boarding school to becoming Principal of The Cambridge Academy of Mu...

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Profile - Elliot Launn

Elliot Launn


A talented pianist, accompanist and tuba player, Elliot studied at Wells Cathedral School before entering the Royal College of Music to study piano...

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Profile - Claire Lawerence

Claire Lawerence


Claire spent eight years as a freelance musician after her studying Flute and Violin at Trinity College and the Royal College of Music. After ten y...

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Profile - Alexandra Whittingham

Alexandra Whittingham


Alexandra studied classical guitar at Chetham’s School of Music before gaining a place at the Royal Academy of Music. Winner of the inaugural Edinb...

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Profile - Lisa Stonham

Lisa Stonham

BA (Hons) PGDip

Lisa studied Oboe and Cor Anglais at Bath Spa University before gaining a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Administration and Management. She has playe...

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  • Songs of Albert Orsborn, Eric Tebbett

    14 songs from General Albert Orsborn in The Salvation Army Song Book, chosen and sung by Eric Tebbett.




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In the Secret - Album Cover

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