Jesus My Great High Priest

One day for our staff prayer meeting, my pastor, Barry Henning, asked if we could sing this hymn by Isaac Watts. I was struck by the excellent content of the words, but I was disappointed by the music. After the meeting, I went straight to my office and wrote a new melody and added a refrain. The verse text that Watts created never fails to hit me like truck. I like it so much that I named the CD, “Guardian Grace” which appears in the 4th verse.

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1.Jesus, my great High Priest offered his blood and died
My guilty conscience seeks no sacrifice beside.
His pow’rful blood did once atone,
and now it pleads before the throne;
And now it pleads before the throne.

2.To this dear Surety’s hand will I commit my cause;
He answers and fulfills his Father’s broken laws.
Behold my soul at freedom set;
My Surety paid the dreadful debt;
My Surety paid the dreadful debt.

Now I approach the throne, and I have confidence
Jesus, my great High Priest offered his blood and died
Now I approach the throne, and I have confidence
Jesus, my great High Priest offered his blood and died
For me.

3.My Advocate appears for my defense on high;
The Father bows his ears and lays his thunder by.
Not all that hell or sin can say
Shall turn his heart, his love, away
Shall turn his heart, his love, away.

To Chorus

4.Should all the hosts of death and pow’rs of hell unknown
Put their most dreadful forms of rage and mischief on,
I shall be safe, for Christ displays
His conqu’ring pow’r and guardian grace;
His conqu’ring pow’r and guardian grace.

To Chorus

“Jesus My Great High Priest”
Words by Isaac Watts
Music and Chorus by Kirk Ward
© 2005 Kirk Ward

  1. #1 by Stefan on December 3, 2009 - 6:21 pm

    Hey Kirk,

    That track is incredible. I always loved that song, however I never knew you did the melody and chorus. What a tight hymn, and the recording sounds great. Congratulations on the CD, I hope it surpasses your expectations!

  2. #3 by Andrew Kaufmann on December 12, 2009 - 3:13 pm

    Kirk, I really like this arrangement. Do you know how much play it gets in churches?

    It has all the elements I like in a congregational song: singable, powerful, hits the range of emotions, great verse-chorus match, words fit the music, and the words of course are profound.

    Keep it up.


    • #4 by kirkwardmusic on December 13, 2009 - 4:21 pm

      thanks Andrew! It hasn’t spread much outside of NCF yet, but of course I would love to see it become a standard.

      I was thinking of you and David Caines last night as I was out with some of your family relations. Mark Belz goes to our church and invited my wife and I to attend the St Louis Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “The Messiah”.

  3. #5 by ryan case on February 9, 2010 - 1:30 am

    first, i love this tune. the lyrics are so….watts.

    second, would you be willing to post the guitar chords for this tune? i’ve figured out much of it, but for some reason, it doesn’t quite match up when i play along.

    third, may God give you much grace in this sweet ministry that magnifies Christ our Savior. may the Spirit equip you for all you need.

    in Christ,
    ryan case

  4. #6 by Martha on May 3, 2010 - 11:47 am

    I knew the song from New City Chattanooga/Glenwood…but totally didn’t know you wrote it. It’s awesome that your music is spreading as your dad’s has and still does!

  5. #8 by mdiber on May 18, 2010 - 1:17 pm

    sorry to sound harsh, but this tune doesn’t crack it for me. I look or things to augment the words: I want to feel the words ‘great’ ‘thunder’ . I’d want to sing out ‘displaaaaays his guardian graaaaaaaaaaaaaaace’. I want to hear some feeling in ‘bows his ears’. ‘Advocate’ and Surety just don’t belong in something almost as simple as Twinkle twinkle. Yes, I am counting the range of notes. On the other hand, if it makes you feel worshipful and draws you nearer to Jesus the great high priest, go for it.

    • #9 by kirkwardmusic on May 19, 2010 - 10:29 am

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. I try to approach song writing with skill and craft, so I appreciate the need for constructive criticism. I’m thankful that Watts has given us all such a beautiful text to work with. My humble melody has served the purpose in my community of reminding people of the importance of Jesus’ roll as High Priest, and for being allowed to be part of that kingdom work, I am amazed and grateful. My intention was to compose a simple melody that would not weigh down the text with too much effort. I wrote the refrain as an opportunity to allow the singer a chance to emotionally connect with the verses and sing with gusto. I wrote it as a congregational song so the range of notes is best kept limited for the courtesy of a crowd of average singers. My experience has been that congregational songs, songs that are designed for large worship services, have to have either simple words or simple tunes. That was my intention in writing this song and I believe that I was successful. Twinkle Twinkle might be simple, but it has out lasted many more complex melodies. I hope my melody can last as long and impact as many people.

  6. #10 by Rozz on February 8, 2012 - 3:37 pm

    Hi Kirk,
    I’m the Worship Director at a church in Chestnut Ridge, NY, about 30 minutes from NYC. Love the song and I’m looking forward to doing it at our church. We are a church plant of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC. The NYC church was started by the amazing pastor and theologian, Tim Keller. Hopefully this song will spread through the NY city churches. Good song.

    • #11 by Kirk Ward on February 8, 2012 - 3:51 pm

      Thanks Rozz! Make sure that if you share the music that it has my contact info on it so that it doesn’t end up credited to “anonymous”. Check out for more of my songs and songs from our network.

  7. #12 by Michelle Lovelady on March 29, 2012 - 5:50 pm

    I love it Kirk! What a wonderful job you have done with changing the melody and adding the chorus. May Jesus bless your ministry!

    Michelle Graham Lovelady

  8. #13 by Palmersancheese on April 4, 2012 - 11:37 pm

    Hi Kirk,

    Just wanted to say thanks for this song! We used it at our church for a short series on Hebrews 1-4, and it was perfect in supporting the preaching material.
    I made sure the song was credited to you.

    Thanks again!
    St Thomas’ Anglican Church. North Sydney. Australia.

    • #14 by Kirk Ward on April 5, 2012 - 3:09 pm

      How wonderful! Your congregation might be the first to use my song in the southern hemisphere.

  9. #15 by George Westerlund on February 20, 2013 - 2:36 pm

    The beating tempo annoys me continually: so much that I cannot listen to the words..

    • #16 by Kirk Ward on February 20, 2013 - 2:40 pm

      Thank you for the feedback. I guess it’s not your style.

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