Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Its Onward Course Has Run

Another year is coming to an end; as usual, too soon for some, not soon enough for others. I'm currently indulging in my annual New Year's Eve ritual of listening to the Mozart Requiem as I write this -- must be close to thirty years that I've done this.

The New Year is not marked in the liturgical calendar of all churches. For those that do observe it, there are of course hymns for the occasion. When preparing for this entry I realized that I had already presented my favorite hymn for the new year back on June 26, the birthday of its author, Philip Doddridge. Not good planning.

In looking for another one, I learned that a recurring theme in many of them could be summed up as "Well, you made it through another year, but you might just die in the coming one, so you better be ready." I did want something that looked forward, but maybe was a bit more cheerful and positive.

As is often the case, Fanny Crosby had the answer. Not that she didn't write some scoldy and negative lyrics in her time, but out of the supposedly 8000+ gospel songs and hymns she wrote, there are quite a number of good ones. I didn't know this one before (her twentieth-century songs seem to be less known than her nineteenth-century ones), but it fulfills the desired specifications.

A year of precious blessings
And glorious victories won,
Of earnest work progressing,
Its onward course has run;
To thee, O God, our Refuge,
Whose goodness crowns our days,
Within thine earthly temple,
We lift our souls in praise;
Within thine earthly temple,
We lift our souls in praise.

O God of our assemblies,
In mighty power descend,
Behold our new endeavors,
Conduct them to the end;
Inspire our hearts with courage
And deeper love for thee,
That all, thy Name may honor,
Where’er our field may be,
That all, thy Name may honor,
Where’er our field may be.

May we, as thine anointed,
March through the world in love,
Lead forth its ranks by millions
To join thy ranks above,
Till at thy throne in glory,
Where angels prostrate fall,
One hallelujah chorus

Acclaims thee God of all,
One hallelujah chorus
Acclaims thee God of all.

Fanny Crosby, 1907; alt.
Tune: NEW YEAR (
Ira Allan Sankey, 1907

Ira Allan Sankey was the son of the famous evangelist Ira David Sankey. Both father and son wrote tunes for Crosby's texts over her long career.

A Happy New Year to all -- looking forward to another year of hymns and hymnists.

1 comment:

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Thanks, that's a Fanny Jane I'd never seen before, and very à propos. I was thinking we should maybe sing "O God of earth and altar", quick before Bush is history... Actually, I think this Sunday my wife and I will do vv. 1, 3, 5 of "The grace of God unbounded is" (from the Spring 2008 issue of The Hymn. Here's a midi of the tune (five verses), Holy Love.

Leland aka Haruo