William Chatterton Dix (June 14, 1837 - September 9, 1898) was named by his father, John, a surgeon who was also a writer. John had written a biography of the poet Thomas Chatterton and had written poetry himself; it has been speculated that he wanted his son to write also.
William, like his father the surgeon, embarked on a "legitimate" career at an insurance firm, but also found time to write, as an avocation. He published four volumes of hymns and poems between 1861 and 1878.
Today's hymn for peace comes from Dix's collection A Vision of All Saints (1871) which does also include several texts on the saints of the church. The story of Noah's Ark does not often come up in hymnody but I like how it is used here.
Is it in vain we pray for peace
While signs and notes of strife abound,
In vain we ask that war may cease,
While hostile forces camp around?
Rough billows, waters wild and dread
Still bear the Ark upon their breast,
But God's fair rainbow overhead
Is sign of peace and pledge and rest.
Say, will the winged prayers we send
Forth from the Ark return again?
Yes, some have come to point the end,
To tell of sunshine after rain.
They bear the olive-branch to show
That flood and storm are passing o'er;
Our hearts are strong, for well we know
The waters shall o'erwhelm no more.
William Chatterton Dix, 1871
Tune ERHALT UNS, HERR (L.M.)
from Joseph Klug's Geistliche Leider,
Two Years Ago: William Chatterton Dix
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