May 1 is the feast day of Saint Philip and Saint James, two of the less well-known Apostles who are commemorated together apparently only because they were buried together in a church in Rome (though there is now some doubt about that).
Today's hymn is from the Book of Common Praise (1909), published for the Church of England in Canada. Author William Edgar Enman (1869-1950), though born in Canada, worked for several years in U.S. publishing houses. He wrote articles for several journals including The Living Church, an Episcopal publication (still in existence) which also published several of his hymn texts. After returning to Canada, Enman published privately One Hundred Hymns and Sacred Lyrics (c.1945). This book seems to be largely unknown, as only three of his texts are available on the Cyber Hymnal and Hymnary.org.
Jesus Christ, we offer highest praise to thee,
Who didst free thy people from captivity;
Sending thine apostles to convey thy grace
Unto every nation, unto every race.
Two of those apostles we remember now,
Whom thou didst so freely with thy grace endow.
Thou unto Saint Philip hast thyself revealed,
Maker, Christ, and Spirit, though in flesh concealed.
O how can we thank thee for the light conferred
By Saint James, thy servant, in his faithful word.
Like these two apostles, faithful unto death,
May we love and serve thee till our latest breath.
Make us, dear Redeemer, more and more like thee,
Be the Way to lead us over life's broad sea;
Be the Truth to light us to our home on high;
Be the Life within us that can never die.
William Edgar Enman, 1908; alt.
Tune: URSWICKE (18.104.22.168.)
George Job Elvey, 1881
The final stanza incorporates the "Way and the Truth and the Life" language from John 14:6-14, one of the passages where Philip is prominent.
Unfortunately, George Elvey (1816-1893) is only known today for two familiar tunes: DIADEMATA and ST. GEORGE'S WINDSOR but he wrote many more, as well as many anthems and chants for the church.
Four Years Ago: Saint Philip and Saint James
Seven Years Ago: Saint Philip and Saint James