Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Lord, who throughout these forty days
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with thee to mourn our sins
And close by thee to stay.

As thou with Satan didst contend,
And didst the vict'ry win,
So give us strength in thee to fight,
In thee to conquer sin.

As thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Friend,
To hunger, thirst for righteousness,
Injustice to amend.

And through these days of penitence,
And through thy Passiontide,
Yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesus! with us abide.

Abide with us, that so this life
Of suff'ring overpast,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!

Claudia F. Hernaman, 1873; alt.
Tune: ST. FLAVIAN (C.M.)
from Day’s Psal­ter, 1563

This well-known hymn for the first day of Lent by Claudia Frances Hernaman has crossed denominations and appeared in many hymnals for more than a hundred years. I've found two modern adaptations of this hymn, one for general use and one with a specific LGBT focus (scroll down slightly on both pages). I think they are both interesting variations on the Lenten themes of the original.

I recently spotted this hymn in an older hymnal index, with its author listed as C.F. Hernaman. Unless you were familiar with this text, you wouldn't know that C.F. was Claudia Frances. I sometimes wonder when I look at an old index if some of the authors and composers listed by their initials are actually unknown women (sometimes anonymous by their own choice). Google and the Internet make cross-referencing easier than it used to be, but I still believe that there are authors and composers, published in perhaps only one or two hymnals, whose gender we may never know.

No comments: