Friday, December 31, 2010

William Orcutt Cushing

Song writer William Orcutt Cushing was born today in 1823 in Hingham, Massachusetts. His parents were Unitarians, but Cushing was eventually ordained in the Christian Church, which we know today as the Disciples of Christ. He served several different congregations all over New York state.

Following the death of his wife in 1870, he developed what nearly all sources call "creeping paralysis," which caused him to lose his voice. Now unable to preach, his pastoral career was at an end. Over the years he had written a few Sunday school songs for use in his churches, and he now turned his efforts more fully toward gospel song writing. His texts, which eventually numbered about 300, were set to music by several of the best-known composers of his time, including Robert Lowry, George Root, and Ira Sankey.

This song originally appeared in Welcome Tidings (1877) with a tune by Robert Lowry, who was also one of the editors of the songbook, but I like it better with this later tune by Daniel B. Towner.

Cheer, O cheer, ye heirs of Zion!
Weary days will soon be past;
Joy’s bright banner waving o’er us
Tells that heav’n is won at last.
On that fair, celestial morning,
Comes no cloud of grief or pain;
In your peaceful tents abiding,
Sorrow ne’er shall come again.

Cheer, O cheer, the morn is breaking!
Gloomy night will disappear;
Christ will come with sweet awaking;
Happier days will soon be here;
Long the pilgrim path we’ve wandered,
Long we’ve hoped ’mid doubt and fear,
Hard we’ve pressed thro’ many a trial --
Now the day of peace is here.

Cheer, O cheer, the morn is breaking!
Bright its beams of promise rise;
Sing, O sing, ye heirs of Zion!
Hear the welcome from the skies:
Come, ye blessèd of creation,
Dwell no more ’mid doubts and fears;
Join the throngs of saints and angels,
Crownèd with immortal years.

William O. Cushing, 1877; alt.
Daniel B. Towner, 1913

Two Years Ago: A year of precious blessings

One Year Ago: John Robson Sweney

No comments: