Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Godfrey Thring

English hymn writer and hymnal editor Godfrey Thring was born on this day in 1823 in the town of Alford in Somerset. Years later, as an Anglican priest, he would return to the local church as rector for nine years.

In Popular Hymns and Their Writers, by Norman Mable, it's recorded that Thring wrote his first hymn when his mother complained that there were no good texts for a particular tune she liked -- they all required that the last line be repeated three times, which she thought ridiculous. The result of his effort was not mentioned, though presumably he was successful, judging by his further career in hymnody.

Thring published a few volumes of his own hymn texts, and also edited hymnals, most notably A Church of England Hymn-book (1880) which was considered by many hymnologists to contain the most literary collection of hymns available at that time.

Looking at a list of his works, you may discover that in many cases he was only adding a verse or two to someone else's hymn text (see here and here for examples), probably in line with his editorial work. His added verses (as well as many other textual revisions he made to various hymns) have come to be accepted as the "standard" version of those hymns (I should be so lucky).

While I considered each of the two above examples for today's hymn I decided to go with a less-familiar text that at least was entirely by Thring.

All that's good, and great, and true,
All that is and is to be,
Be it old, or be it new,
Comes, Creator, all from thee.

Mercies dawn with every day,
Newer, brighter than before,
And the sun's declining ray
Gathers others up in store.

Every blade and every tree,
All in happy concert ring,
And in wondrous harmony,
Join the cheerful birds to sing.

Far and near, o'er land and sea,
Mountain top and hidden dell,
All, in singing, sing of thee,
Songs of love unquenchable.

Fill us then with love divine,
Grant that we, though toiling here,
May, in spirit being thine,
Know and serve thee everywhere.

May we all with songs of praise,
Here on earth thy name adore,
Till with angel choir we raise
Songs of praise forevermore.

Godfrey Thring, 1874; alt.
Tune: EVELYN (
Emma Ashford, 1905

I have used this tune by Emma Ashford before when writing about her last fall. It suits this text quite well, and as it happens, Ashford's birthday is this Friday, so this is also in celebration of that occasion.

One Year Ago: The Feast of the Annunciation

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

What an uplifting, encouraging hymn! Especially that second verse:

Mercies dawn with every day,
Newer, brighter than before,
And the sun's declining ray
Gathers others up in store.