Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eliza Scudder

Hymnwriter Eliza Scudder was born today in Massachusetts in 1821. In childhood she was very close to her older sister Rebecca; this closeness lasted throughout their lives, and the sisters actually died on the same day in 1896.

Scudder was greatly influenced by the abolotionist movement and two of its leaders in particular: the philanthropist Gerrit Smith and the author Lydia Maria Child. It is believed that her association with Child led her away from the Congregational faith of her family and into an interest in the Unitarian Church (though it's not clear she ever formally joined it), which caused a break with many of her friends. Some years later she was drawn to the Episcopal Church through the preaching and then the friendship of Phillips Brooks, the popular rector of Trinity Church in Boston.

This flexibilty in her religious thought probably means that it's difficult to assign her hymn texts to any particular set of beliefs, and her hymns were indeed sung in several different denominations. Her short 1880 collection, Hymns and Sonnets, contained this text.

Grant us your peace, down from your presence falling
As on the thirsty earth cool night-dews sweet,
Grant us your peace, to your own paths recalling,
From distant ways, our worn and wand'ring feet.

Grant us your peace, through winning and through losing,
Through gloom and gladness of our pilgrim way,
Grant us your peace, safe in your love's enclosing,
Who o'er all things in heav'n and earth hold sway.

Grant us your peace, that like a deep'ning river
Swells ever onward to a sea of praise;
Jesus, of peace the only Source and Giver,
Grant us your peace, O Savior, all our days!

Eliza Scudder, 1880; alt.
Frances Ridley Havergal, 1871

Two Years Ago: Eliza Scudder

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