Friday, July 31, 2009

More Voices Found: Margaret J. Harris

Margaret Jenkins Harris, born in Illinois on this day in 1865, is another woman hymnwriter and composer who is largely unknown today. She and her husband were involved in the Wesleyan Holiness movement, where she would probably have been familiar with the writings of Phoebe Worrall Palmer, and perhaps even her hymns. The Harrises also embarked on their own evangelism campaigns, and I like the detail included in her CyberHymnal entry: that they played an instrument supplied by the Epworth Organ and Piano Company (no doubt in exchange for at least a line in the program, if not a full-page advertisement -- scroll down for examples).

I've come across a few of her gospel songs in nineteenth-century songbooks, but I'm not sure any of them have survived into denominational hymnals today. Apparently some of her songs have been
translated into other languages, so she is not altogether forgotten.

I long ago left Egypt for the promised land,
With trust in my Creator, in God's great guiding hand,
God led me out to vict’ry through the great Red Sea,
I sang a song of triumph, and shouted, "I am free!"

You need not look for me, down in Egypt’s sand,
For I have pitched my tent far up in Beulah land;
You need not look for me, down in Egypt’s sand,
For I have pitched my tent far up in Beulah land.

I started for the highlands where the fruits abound,
I pitched my tent near Hebron, and grapes in plenty found,
With milk and honey flowing, and new wine so free;
I have no love for Egypt, it has no charms for me.

My heart is so enraptured as I press along,
Each day I find new blessings which fill my heart with song;
I’m ever marching onward to that land on high,
Some day I’ll reach my mansion that’s builded in the sky.

Margaret J. Harris, 1908; alt.
TRIUMPH ( with refrain)

More information about Margaret Harris would be welcome indeed. (The illustration below is not she, but is from an advertisement for the Epworth Organ and Piano Company.)


Dorothy said...

I love both the words and the tune! So glad you found it.

AuntE said...

This name sounded familiar to me; I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene which is part of that Wesleyan holiness movement the Harris's were involved in. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the current Nazarene hymnal. I wouldn't be surprised if there are still 1 or 2 of her works in it.

I do have "Songs of Faith and Praise", c. 1994, Howard Publishing Co., Inc. and find there "I Will Praise Him!", a hymn well-known to me and one that could very well be in the current Nazarene hymnal...

When I saw the cleansing fountain
Open wide for all my sin,
I obeyed the Spirit's calling
When He said, "Wilt thou be clean?"

I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
For His blood can wash away each stain.

Blessed be the name of Jesus!
I'm so glad He took me in;
He's forgiven my transgressions,
He has cleansed my heart from sin.

Glory, glory to the Father!
Glory, glory to the Son!
Glory, glory to the Spirit!
Glory to the Three in One!

No date is given for these words.
Tune: I WILL PRAISE HIM ( with refrain)