Sunday, March 27, 2011

George Matheson

Scottish minister George Matheson was born today in Glasgow in 1842. He entered the university there at fifteen, and during his time there his already-poor eyesight deteriorated to the point of blindness. Undeterred, he continued his studies with the help of his sisters and was awarded several academic honors. His first degree was in philosophy, followed by one in divinity, after which he was licensed to preach in the Church of Scotland.

Over the next several years he became a renowned preacher, adding to his fame when the first of his several books was published in 1874. He continued to write books and articles on theology and comparative religions even after his retirement in 1899, until his death from a stroke in 1906.

He published only one book of poetry, Sacred Songs (1890), though he did not include his most well-known hymn until the third edition in 1904. He considered O Love that wilt not let me go to be a special case as it was written with an ease that he never experienced again. Most of the poems in Sacred Songs are not suited to be hymns, but a few of them have also appeared in hymnals, such as this one.

Jesus, Fountain of my days,

Wellspring of my heart's delight.

Brightness of my morning rays,

Solace of my hours of night,

Loving thee I shall arise

To the hope of cloudless skies.

As thy presence on the deep

Calmed the pulses of the sea,

And the waters sank to sleep

In the rest of seeing thee,

So my restless, troubled will

Heard the mandate, "Peace, be still!"

Now thy will and mine are one,

Heart in heart and hand in hand;

All the clouds and all the sun,

All the ships have reached the land;

And thy love has said to me,

"No more night!" and "No more sea!"

George Matheson, 1890; alt.

Leipzig Choralbuch, 1816;

harm. William Henry Havergal, 1861

P.S. - In many churches today, the Gospel lesson was the story of the woman at the well (
John 4:4-41), which brings to mind this hymn from a few years ago.

Two Years Ago:
George Matheson

One Year Ago:
George Job Elvey

Another Birthday Today:
Emma Ashford

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