Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Speechless stand through endless time;
As the grandeur of the story
Fills my heart with joy sublime.

By the cross of Christ my feeling
Overflows in boundless praise
For the love that is so healing,
For the bliss of coming days.

Near the cross of Christ I never
Lose my faith, or conscience still,
But with greater zeal than ever
I go forth to do thy will.,

All my hope, my pain, my pleasure
Through the cross are glorified,
Be of all my only measure,
Near to thee I would abide.

Simon N. Patten, 1916
Tune: RATHBUN  (
Ithamar Conkey, 1849

This re-writing of the familiar text In the cross of Christ I glory is from Advent Songs (1916), by Simon Nelson Patten (1852-1922), who was an economist by trade but a hymnwriter by avocation. Subtitled A Revision of Old Hymns to Meet Modern Needs, Patten's collection provides new texts, many of them rewrites or at least suggestive of previous texts, as in this case, the original by John Bowring.

From Patten's introduction to Advent Songs, this passage may apply more directly to this particular revision, where he talks about the need for new texts to replace the old:

In the epoch of suffering, the vision was of another world with its protection, peace, and rest. Today we see the future clearly. We need a Christ more than ever, but (...) to build and not to relieve. Charity is displaced by cooperation, the physician by the architect, the hospital by the park.

Perhaps needless to say, the contemporaneous reviews of Advent Songs that I've seen were not altogether favorable, but Patten had touched on something that would flower into a broader movement in the coming years, and a century later his ideas might still be somewhat relevant to the hymnwriters of today.

The tune RATHBUN, by Ithamar Conkey (1815-1867), generally matched with Bowring's In the cross... was not used by Patten but I have restored it here.  The tune was named for Mrs. Beriah S. Rathbun, a faithful soprano in the choir of the Central Baptist Church of Norwich, CT, where Conkey was the organist for some years.

Eight (Liturgical) Years Ago: There is a green hill far away

Seven (Liturgical) Years Ago: Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended?

Six (Liturgical) Years Ago: When I survey the wondrous cross

Five (Liturgical) Years Ago: Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Four (Liturgical) Years Ago: On a hill far away

One (Liturgical) Year Ago: Beneath the shadow of the cross


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