Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Emily E.S. Elliott

Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (July 22, 1836 - August 3, 1897), another daughter of the clergy, came from a hymn-loving family of the Evangelical branch of the Church of England. Her aunt was the more well-known hymnwriter Charlotte Elliott, and her uncle, Henry Venn Elliott, published Psalms and Hymns for Public, Private, and Social Worship (1835), which included some texts by him and by Charlotte, as well as by his wife, Julia Ann Elliott.

Emily's earliest hymns were written for the choir of
St. Mark's Church in Brighton, where her father was the rector. Later, she was for some years the editor of a magazine, The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor, where some of her hymns were first published. They were later collected into three volumes, totalling one hundred forty-one by one account.

This hymn still appears in some hymnals, generally in the Christmas section, though it traces all of Jesus's life.

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy royal crown,
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, dear Jesus,
there is room in my heart for thee.

Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming thy high degree;
But of lowly birth didst thou come to earth,
And in great humility.

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But thy couch was the sod, O thou Child of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore thee to Calvary.

When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At thy coming to victory,
Let thy voice call me home, saying "Yet there is room,
There is room at my side for thee."
And my heart will rejoice, dear Jesus,
When thou comest and callest for me.

Emily E.S. Elliott, 1864; alt.
MARGARET (Irregular with refrain)
Timothy R. Matthews, 1876

Elliott wrote the first tune used for this hymn, as she did for some of her others, and it appeared in some nineteenth-century hymnals, but MARGARET has probably been consistently used for the last hundred years. Composer Timothy Matthews wrote other tunes, but this one has been the longest-lived, just as the text has been for Emily Elliott.

One Year Ago: Saint Mary Magdalene


AuntE said...

This, for me, is a well-loved hymn. I hesitate to use the word 'favourite' as I have so many that the word loses meaning...

I first heard this hymn about 35 years ago on vinyl. The soloist, Phillip D. Bowles, was/is my sisters' friend and otherwise I don't think we would have had the record in our collection.

In the 1997 Book of Praise, this hymn is in the Lent section, but as you say, it could really go in Christmas or anywhere. Thank you for posting about Emily today.

C.W.S. said...

I'm not sure I've ever seen it with Lent hymns, but of course stanzas 3 and 4 are as much about Lent/Holy Week as 1 and 2 are about Advent/Christmas (Advent I think because of the "O come" in the refrain).

I first put this entry up as part of the More Voices Found series, but it turns out that this one actually was included in that book. I know I should have checked -- I meant to!!

Dorothy said...

This one is the hymnal used by our church too...the blue Trinity Hymnal. In fact, we've sung it! And like AuntE, I'm hesitant to call it a favorite but I do love it.

P.S. I've finished reading "Her Heart Can See" and reviewed it at my blog, C.W.S. Thanks for the recommendation.