Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spirit, Now From Heaven Descending

Dwell in me, O blessèd Spirit,
How I need thy help divine!
In the way of life eternal,
Keep, oh, keep this heart of mine.

Dwell in me, oh, dwell in me;
Hear and grant my prayer to thee;
Spirit, now from heav’n descending,
Come, oh, come and dwell in me.

Let me feel thy sacred presence;
Then my faith will ne’er decline;
Comfort thou and help me onward,
Fill with love this heart of mine.

Dwell in me, O blessèd Spirit,
Gracious Teacher, Friend divine,
For the home of bliss that waits me
O prepare this heart of mine.

Martha J. Lankton, 19th c.
Tune: DWELL IN ME ( with refrain)
Georgia Guiney Berkey, 19th c.

This may be our final Sunday hymn of the Spirit for a while, as Advent is just around the corner and I won't need the more general themes we've been using since the summer months. So I'm combining two of those themes, using one that's also a gospel song. There will probably still be more of these (as well as the social justice and communion themes) as they coincide with various hymnic birthdays.

Martha Lankton doesn't seem to be very well-known or very prolific -- perhaps she belongs in the More Voices Found category? Actually, she's about as well-known as possible, because Lankton was a pseudonym for Fanny Crosby, sometimes reputed to have written more than eight thousand gospel songs. Some of her publishers thought that their hymnals and songbooks shouldn't appear to be quite so full of Crosby's material, so Fanny was given several different aliases (including a number of male ones). When I first encountered this one years ago, I thought I had found another woman writer, and didn't realize my mistake for quite some time.

Georgia Berkey also seems particularly obscure, and I have recently wondered whether that name is also a pseudonym, perhaps even in this case for one of Crosby's many male composer collaborators, such as William Howard Doane or John R. Sweney.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had been hunting for this hymn as it has always been a family favorite. Never found it on a web search. Found it in an old hymnal from our church. Glad to see that it is our on the web too. It was interesting to know that this hymn was written by Fanny Crosby. Nice that I now have a copy of the hymnal as well. 1941 Hymnal by Eden Publishing House, St. Louis Missouri.