Friday, June 14, 2013

William Chatterton Dix

William Chatterton Dix, born today in 1837, was a lay person who wrote hymns, rather than ordained clergy.  He was an official in a maritime insurance agency in Glasgow, but published four volumes of hymns and poems in his lifetime. 

Today's hymn is a bit out of season, being a harvest hymn, a theme no longer much celebrated in this country.  It's very similar to a harvest hymn that we do still sing, Come, ye thankful people, come. However, in former times, our grandparents and great-grandparents would likely have known this hymn, with its tune written by Arthur Sullivan specifically for this text.

To thee, O Lord, our hearts we raise in hymns of adoration,
To thee bring sacrifice of praise with shouts of exultation.
Bright robes of gold the fields adorn, the hills with joy are ringing,
The valleys stand so thick with corn that even they are singing.

And now, on this our festal day, thy bounteous hand confessing,
Upon thine altar, Lord, we lay the first-fruits of thy blessing.
By thee all human souls are led with gifts of grace supernal;
Thou, who gives us our daily bread, give us the bread eternal.

We bear the burden of the day, and often toil seems dreary;
But labor ends with sunset ray, and rest comes for the weary.
May we, the angel-reaping over, stand at the last accepted,
Christ’s golden sheaves, forevermore to garners bright elected.

O blessèd is that land of God where saints abide forever,
Where golden fields spread fair and broad, where flows the crystal river.
The strains of all its holy throng with ours today are blending
Thrice blessèd is that harvest song which never hath an endng.

William Chatterton Dix, 1861
Arthur Seymour Sullivan, 1874

Four Years Ago: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Three Years Ago: William Chatterton Dix

One Year Ago: William Chatterton Dix

Another Birthday Today: Miriam Therese Winter

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