Saturday, October 16, 2010

Frederick Lucian Hosmer

Today is the 170th birthday of Unitarian minister and hymnwriter Frederick Lucian Hosmer who was born in Framingham, Massachusetts. Educated at Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School, he was ordained in the Unitarian church shortly after graduation in 1869, and served his first church in Northboro, MA for three years before moving westward in his career, to churches in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and California.

As described here before, he and his friend William Channing Gannett produced two important Unitarian hymnals, Unity Hymns and Chorals (1880) and The Thought of God in Hymns and Poems (1885), both of which they revised in later editions. According to a quote in the later Unitarian collection Hymns for the Celebration of Life (1964), Gannett was the better poet, Hosmer the better hymnwriter.

Hosmer wrote today's hymn for the 1891 commencement ceremony of Meadville Theological School in Meadville, PA. Canon Percy Dearmer, who was at least partly responsible for introducing Hosmer's hymns to Great Britain, believed this text to be "one of the noblest hymns in the language."

God's time shall come! Forever so
The passing ages pray;
And faithful souls have longed to know
On earth that promised day.

But the slow watches of the night
Not less to God belong;
And for the everlasting right
The silent stars are strong.

And lo, already on the hills
The flags of dawn appear;
Go forth in joy, ye prophet souls,
Proclaim the day is near.

The day in whose clear shining light
All wrong shall stand revealed,
When justice shall be throned in might,
And every hurt be healed.

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
Shall walk the earth abroad;
The day of perfect righteousness,
The promised day of God.

Frederick Lucian Hosmer, 1891; alt.
Thomas Clark, 1807

Two Years Ago: Frederick Lucian Hosmer

One Year Ago: Frederick Lucian Hosmer

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