Thursday, June 26, 2008

Philip Doddridge

Philip Doddridge was an English Nonconformist, meaning that he felt that church and state should be separate in England, which the Church of England was not. He opened his own academy for the training of Nonconformist clergy, teaching many of the classes himself. He was a friend of Isaac Watts and an admirer of Watts's hymns, as well as those of Charles Wesley. He wrote nearly 400 hymns himself, many of which were sung in his own congregation. They were based on specific Scripture passages and were intended to be sung following one of his sermons on that particular text, as reinforcement of the theme.

The hymns were not published until after his death, first collected by Job Orton in Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures in 1755 (374 hymns). His great-grandson, John Doddridge Humphreys, added 23 more in Scriptural Hymns by the Rev. Philip Doddridge in 1839. Several of them have survived into the present, including this one.

Great God, we sing that mighty hand
By which supported still we stand;
The opening year thy mercy shows,
That mercy crowns it ’til it close.

By day, by night, at home, abroad,
Still are we guarded by our God,
By thine incessant bounty fed,
By thine unerring counsel led.

With grateful hearts the past we own;
The future, all to us unknown,
We to thy guardian care commit,
And peaceful leave before thy feet.

In scenes exalted or depressed,
Thou art our joy, and thou our rest;
Thy goodness all our hopes shall raise,
Adored through all our changing days.

Philip Doddridge, published 1755; alt.
Tune: WAREHAM (L.M.)
William Knapp, 1738

Since there is a wide gulf between the language of the early eighteenth century and the common usage of today, I would guess that nearly any text you sing of Doddridge's will be rewritten in some way. This one, however, remains fairly intact.

1 comment:

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Doddridge's most widely preserved song in my experience is O Happy Day (scroll down), with the Sacred Harp refrain (Cyberhymnal).


Leland aka Haruo