Friday, October 30, 2009

Adelaide Anne Procter

Popular poet Adelaide Anne Procter (October 3o, 1825 - February 2, 1864) was born in London. Her father, Bryan Waller Procter, was also a successful poet who published under the name of “Barry Cornwall.” Family friends included Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens. Her parents saw to it that she received a good education and a love for poetry from an early age. Her first published poem appeared in 1843.

She later submitted poems to Dickens' journal Household Words under the pseudonym “Mary Berwick,” not wanting any special consideration due to the family connection. He did not learn her true identity for more than a year. Dickens eventually printed more than 80 of her poems in his publications. Though Queen Victoria would later declare that Procter was her favorite poet, Adelaide apparently did not share the same high opinion, famously claiming that “Papa is a poet, I only write verses.”

Procter later became the editor of the magazine Victoria Regia, published by the “explicitly feminist” Victoria Press, and helped to found the English Women's Journal. These periodicals advocated for women's education and employment rights, and probably led to the later establishment of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women, which Procter supported.

Procter converted to Roman Catholicism in 1851, and much of her poetry took on a devotional theme. The royalties from her 1862 collection, A Chaplet of Verses, went to support a shelter for homeless women and children that had been opened by the Sisters of Mary. Several of the verses from this book were later
printed in hymnals, including this evening hymn.

The shadows of the evening hours
Fall from the dark'ning sky;
Upon the fragrance of the flowers
The dews of evening lie.

Before thy throne, O God of heav’n,
We come at close of day;
Look on thy children from on high,
And hear us while we pray.

Slowly the rays of daylight fade,
So fade within our heart
The hopes in earthly love and joy,
That one by one depart.

Slowly the bright stars, one by one,
Within the heavens shine:
Give us, O God, fresh hopes in heav'n,
And trust in things divine.

Let peace, O God, thy peace, O God,
Upon our souls descend;
From midnight fears and perils, now
Our trembling hearts defend.

Adelaide Anne Procter, 1862; alt.
English carol, 15th cent.

We have already encountered the poem of Procter's that was most popular in the nineteenth century, though it was not a hymn. The musical setting of The Lost Chord by Arthur Sullivan was sung and played everywhere and was one of the earliest recordings made for the phonograph.

One Year Ago: Christopher Wordsworth

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saint Simon and Saint Jude

Let the church of God rejoice
For the Apostles' fostering care,
For the sounding of their voice,
For their preaching and their prayer.

Souls untiring God would choose
To the farthest lands to go.
These did God the Spirit use,
Holiest seed on earth to sow.

In the new Jerusalem,
Twelve foundations firm are laid;
On the Apostles of the Lamb
Is the glorious structure stayed.

Firmly built on them, may we,
Bound to Christ, our Cornerstone,
In the heavenly temple be,
One in heart, in purpose one.

Henry Alford, 1867; alt.
Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 19th c.

P.S. The window is from the Church of Sts. Simon and Jude in Castlethorpe, Buckinghamshire.

One Year Ago: Saint Simon and Saint Jude

Monday, October 26, 2009

Henry Smart

Henry Thomas Smart, born today in 1813, was educated in music by his father, who was a violinist and a music publisher. The younger Smart was intrigued by the pipe organ from a early age, often visiting the nearby Flight & Robson organ factory (founder George Robson had been organ builder to King George IV). After his father's death in 1823, his mother's relatives discouraged his musical interests and pushed him toward a legal career, but after four years in that practice he returned to music, becoming an organist and eventually an organ designer as well as a respected composer.

His first acclaimed anthem was written when he was organist at the parish church in
Blackburn; an extended piece in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Reformation. A local Methodist group asked him for a tune they could sing at one of their missionary meetings to Bishop Reginald Heber's text From Greenland's icy mountains, which resulted in one of Smart's most popular tunes, LANCASHIRE.

We have already seen a number of Smart's
other hymn tunes over the last year (click the tag below). This one is no longer very well known, but I like it, especially with this text by Frederick Lucian Hosmer. Note how the third line proceeds directly into the fourth, which helps give the tune a sense of urgency in the hands of a good accompanist.

Your presence come, O Lord,
Wide circling as the sun;
Fulfill of old your Word
And make the nations one.

One in the bond of peace,
The service glad and free
Of truth and righteousness,
Of love and equity.

Speed, speed the longed for time
Foretold by raptured seers—
The prophecy sublime,
The hope of all the years.

Till rise at last, to span
Its firm foundations broad,
Fulfillment of your plan,
The city of our God.

Frederick L. Hosmer, 1905; alt.
Henry T. Smart, 1881

One Year Ago: Henry Smart

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sarah Josepha Hale

Today is the birthday of Sarah Josepha Hale, born in Newport, New Hampshire in 1788, and one of the most influential women of the nineteenth century. She was a schoolteacher before her marriage, and began to write poetry and essays which were published.

Her husband died in 1822, leaving her with five small children to support. Friends from the Freemason lodge to which he had belonged helped her to start a millinery shop with her sister, and also raised money to publish her first book of poetry, The Genius of Oblivion (1823), though she was credited as “a Lady of New Hampshire.” This was followed a few years later by her novel, Northwood (1827), on the subject of slavery (two decades before Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin).

The novel was praised by a Boston Episcopal minister, John Lauris Blake, who asked Hale to move to Boston and become editor of Ladies' Magazine, which he owned (she preferred the title of “editress”). In 1837 the magazine was bought by
Louis Antoine Godey and merged with his own publication, Godey's Lady's Book, with Hale as the editor. Godey's became the highest circulation magazine in the country, and Hale purposefully used the magazine as a means of educating women on various topics. She met all the leading activists for the cause of education, publishing their articles and supporting their efforts.

The establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday is also attributed to Sarah Hale. Over nearly forty years she wrote letters to state and federal officials to lobby for a nation-wide observance. She had described the sort of celebration she envisioned in her novel Northwood. Various days of thanksgiving had been declared before, the first in 1777, and some states, such as New York, had adopted their own days. The Protestant Episcopal Church (of which Hale was a member) in 1789 had decreed the first Thursday in November as a day of thanks. Hale wrote editorials in support of the holiday in her magazine, such as this one from 1858, which begins with lines from a hymn of thanks by Anna Laetitia Barbauld. Finally, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln decreed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the US.

Hale published more than fifty books in her lifetime, including novels, poetry, and children's literature. Her most well-known poem, Mary had a little lamb, was first published in 1830 in a collection titled Poems for Our Children. It was later set to music by Lowell Mason, a fellow strong advocate of education.

This text by Hale first appeared in Mason's Church Psalmody (1831).

Our Father in heaven, we hallow thy Name;
May thy kingdom holy on earth be the same;
O give to us daily our portion of bread;
It is from thy bounty that all must be fed.

Forgive our transgressions, and teach us to know
That humble compassion which pardons each foe;
Keep us from temptation, from evil and sin,
And thine be the glory, forever! Amen!

Sarah Josepha Hale, 1831
Josiah Hopkins, 1830

A later edition of Church Psalmody suggests the tune FOUNDATION, but that tune had probably not yet been published in 1831. Other tunes that would work (though they are also much better known with other texts) include GORDON and ST. DENIO. However, since there has clearly been no great desire to sing rather than say the Lord's Prayer, this hymn is not particularly well known.

Hale finally retired as the “editress” of Godey's Lady's Book at the age of 89, two years before her death in 1879. The
Sarah Josepha Hale Award has been established in her honor, to recognize “a distinguished body of work in the field of literature and letters” by authors and artists with a New England connection.

P.S. The portrait of Hale is by James Reid Lambdin, while the picture below is the work of W.W. Denslow, perhaps best known as the original illustrator of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).

Monday, October 19, 2009

John White Chadwick

John White Chadwick, born today in 1840, was a Unitarian theologian and author. He grew up in a seafaring family in Marblehead, Massachusetts working in a dry goods store and also learning the shoemaking trade. Money was raised for his education, and he attended the Bridgewater Normal School and the Phillips Exeter Academy. While at school, he read a sermon by Samuel Longfellow, which he later credited with inspiring him to become a minister. He was admitted to Harvard Divinity School and graduated in 1864, despite not having attended college.

This hymn was written for that graduating class of 1864. The Civil War was still in progress, and it is assumed that this text (particularly the third stanza) was influenced by the conflict.
For whatever reason it was not included in the last two Unitarian hymnals of 1964 and 1993 (nor were any of Chadwick's other hymns) but it is in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 as well as others).

Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round
Of circling planets singing on their way,
Guide of thy people from the depths profound
Into the glory of the perfect day,
Rule in our hearts, that we may ever be
Guided and strengthened and upheld by thee.

We would be one in hatred of all wrong,
One in our love of all things sweet and fair;
One with the joy that breaketh into song,
One with the grief that trembleth into prayer,
One in the power that makes thy children free
To follow truth, and thus to follow thee.

O clothe us with thy heavenly armor, Lord,
Thy trusty shield, the strength of love divine;
Our inspiration be thy constant Word;
We ask no victories that are not thine;
Give or withhold, let pain or pleasure be,
Enough to know that we are serving thee.

John White Chadwick, 1864; alt.
Tune: SONG 1 (
Orlando Gibbons, 1623

Following his graduation, Chadwick was ordained into the Unitarian ministry at the Second Unitarian Church of Brooklyn, where Samuel Longfellow had recently been the pastor. He remained there until his death in 1904, becoming widely known outside his small congregation for his many published works, including collections of poetry and sermons, biographies (including those of notable Unitarians Theodore Parker and William Ellery Channing) and reviews and articles in several newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times and Harper's (some of those are available online).

Emily Swan Perkins

Emily Swan Perkins (October 19, 1866 - June 27, 1941) was one the founders of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada (originally the Hymn Society of America) in 1922, and served as its Corresponding Secretary for nearly twenty years. Her letters to friends in England about the Society have been credited with influencing the 1936 formation of the Hymn Society in Great Britain and Ireland.

In her younger years she accompanied various singing groups on the piano, beginning at the Sunday school where her father was superintendent. She retained this interest in church music thoughout her life; after she became known for composing and writing hymns and tunes she was appointed to serve on the Commission on Worship of the Presbyterian Church in the USA.

This hymn appeared in her 1921 collection Stonehurst Hymn Tunes, and later in the Presbyterian Hymnal of 1933.

Thou art, O God, the God of might;
Thy power is never failing;
Thou safely leadest in the fight,
’Gainst every foe prevailing.

Thou art, O God, the God of truth;
Thy Word remains unshaken;
Thy justice and Thy righteousness
Have every stronghold taken.

Thou art, O God, the God of love;
Thy mercy is unending;
Thou guardest us with tender care,
Each day our souls defending.

Emily S. Perkins, 1921

At this summer's Annual Conference of the Hymn Society, Perkins was honored by the establishment of the Emily Swan Perkins Lectureship, which will be an annual presentation during the Conference. The first Perkins Lecture was delivered by theologian Marva Dawn. The Executive Committee of the Society was looking for a way to honor the retiring Executive Director, Carl P. Daw Jr., and he suggested that this lectureship in Perkins's name would be an appropriate way. Daw was presented with a copy of Stonehurst Hymn Tunes at the Conference when the Perkins Lecture was announced, and I have the somewhat offbeat hope that he will write a new text to be sung to one of Perkins's tunes. It would be an appropriate collaboration to link the past and present of the organization.

Mary Louise Bringle, current President of the Society, wrote a biographical sketch of Perkins in this year's Conference booklet (from which some of the information in this entry is taken), which concluded:

Truly, it would be ironic if a person who gave so lavishly of her time, talents, and treasure to the worship life of the church and particularly to the life of this organization were to remain an “unsung” hero.

One Year Ago: Emily Swan Perkins

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saint Luke

On October 18 many churches celebrate Saint Luke the Evangelist. Often accepted as the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, he is described in Paul's epistles as a physician from Antioch and a fellow traveler during Paul's missionary journeys. Unlike most of the early saints, he was not martyred and reportedly lived to the age of eighty-four.

Like several other hymns in honor of Luke, this oft-published one evokes the theme of healing and extols his Gospel writings. In addition, hymnwriter William MacLagan reminds us of Luke's stories that do not appear in the other Gospels, such as the Prodigal Son, and the great New Testament songs, Mary's Magnificat and Simeon's Nunc dimittis, which also only come down to us from Luke.

What thanks and praise to thee we owe,
O Source and Sacrifice divine,
For Luke, thy saint, through whom we know
So many a gracious word of thine.

How many a soul with guilt oppressed
Has learned to hear the joyful sound:
The prodigal's own sins confessed,
His father’s love, once lost, now found?

And still the church through all our days
Uplifts the songs that never cease,
The blessèd Mary’s hymn of praise,
The agèd Simeon’s words of peace.

O happy saint! whose sacred page,
So rich in words of truth and love
Pours on the church from age to age
This healing unction from above;

The witness of the Savior's life,
Paul the Apostle's chosen friend
Through weary years of toil and strife,
And still found faithful to the end.

So grant us, Christ, like Luke to live,
Beloved on earth, approved by thee,
Till thou at last the summons give,
And we, with him, thy face shall see.

William Dalrymple MacLagan, 1875; alt.
Tune: ELY (L.M.)
Thomas Turton, 1844

Luke is not only the patron saint of doctors, but also of artists, due to a legend that he once painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary on a piece of cypress wood which was formerly a tabletop in the Nazareth home of the Holy Family. The painting, known as the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, remains on display to this day at a popular shrine in Poland.

P.S. The window above is from my own church here in Connecticut, where, serendipitously enough, this afternoon we will be singing Luke's Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (today, the setting by Felix Mendelssohn from 1847), traditionally part of the service of Choral Evensong which we celebrate several times during the year.

One Year Ago:
Saint Luke

Friday, October 16, 2009

Frederick Lucian Hosmer

Unitarian hymnwriter Frederick Lucian Hosmer was born today in 1840. It was during his years at Harvard Divinity School that he met William Channing Gannett, and the two of them remained close friends for the rest of their lives. They worked together on two influential collections, Unity Hymns and Chorals (1880) and The Thought of God In Hymns and Poems (1885) and worked over the years on several updated editions of these books. This collaboration was often compared to that of Samuel Longfellow and Samuel Johnson, lifelong friends who met in seminary and also produced two important hymnbooks for Unitarians and Universalists a generation earlier.

Hosmer's hymns spread to other denominational hymnals, particularly in the early years of the twentieth century after he was praised by
John Julian in his monumental Dictionary of Hymnology (1907) and by Percy Dearmer, who used a number of Hosmer's texts in the British Songs of Praise (1925).

One thought I have, my ample creed,
So deep it is and broad,
And equal to my every need—
It is the thought of God.

Each morn unfolds some fresh surprise,
I feast at life’s full board;
And rising in my inner skies
Shines forth the thought of God.

I ask not far before to see,
But take in trust my road;
Life, death, and immortality
Are in my thought of God.

To this their secret strength they owed
The martyr’s path who trod;
The fountains of their patience flowed
From out their thought of God.

Be still the light upon my way,
My pilgrim staff and rod,
My rest by night, my strength by day
O blessèd thought of God.

Frederick L. Hosmer, 1880; alt.
Aaron Williams, 1764

Hosmer successfully pastored Unitarian congregations across the country, and moved to California in 1900, intending to live in retirement. However, he then agreed to serve as the interim minister of the First Unitarian Church of Berkeley, and ended up staying until 1904. During that time he established a strong musical tradition there which is still upheld today. A pipe organ was installed, the organist's salary was competitive, and the choir gained paid section leaders. Following his second retirement he was appointed minister emeritus by the congregation, which paid him a monthly stipend until his death in 1929.

One Year Ago: Frederick Lucian Hosmer

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, born today in 1872, is probably known by more people for his hymn tunes than for the many other forms of music he wrote. Unlike some of the youthful prodigies we have seen, most of his music was written after the age of thirty, though he had earlier studied with composers such as C.H.H. Parry and Maurice Ravel.

In addition to hymn tunes, his music for voice spanned from art songs and simple church anthems to longer choral works and eventually to four operas. This selection was not originally written as a hymn; it comes from his Five Mystical Songs (1911), which were set to texts of George Herbert, the seventeenth century British priest and poet.
The tune of the first stanza of the song is used for all three in this adaptation.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast,
Such a feast as mends in length,
Such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move,
Such a love as none can part,
Such a heart as joys in love.

George Herbert, 1633
Tune: THE CALL (
Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1911

As predicted last year, we have seen a number of other Vaughan Williams hymn tunes and there are definitely more to come.

One Year Ago: Ralph Vaughan Williams

One Year Ago: Cecil Frances Alexander

One Year Ago: Healey Willan

P.S. - this is post #300! Never really though about getting so far in a bit less than two years.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yes, Their Pilgrimage Was Shorter

I don't usually think of the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 as one that customarily omits stanzas of hymns. At least, not more than any other current denominational hymnal does (and usually, somewhat less).

The one that I usually remember as missing (because I find it most annoying -- hey, it's my #2 hymn!) is the second stanza of Love divine, all loves excelling. I suppose it may be left out sometimes because the Wesley brothers themselves left it out of one of their later collections, but I'm not sure of what other reasons might be considered.

This morning, three of the five hymns we sang only had three stanzas. There are, of course, hymns that really only have three, but I knew that each of these three were written with more.

Sing praise to God, who reigns above

Be thou my vision

O Jesus, I have promised

Now, it turns out that two of the five stanzas of that last one are generally left out, but three definitely seems short for the other two.

And, to be fair, the two other hymns were as complete as they usually are:

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Hope of the world

I guess it was just more noticable today because those first two are pretty well known across several denominations, and it's too bad that we don't get to sing them as completely as others do.

I want all the verses!

P.S. The title of this entry can be found here (though of course it has nothing to do with shorter hymns).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Henry Alford

Henry Alford (October 7, 1810 - January 12, 1871), Anglican priest and eventually dean of Canterbury Cathedral, published fifty-eight books in his lifetime, including poetry collections, a popular book on English grammar, translations (Homer's Odyssey among them), selected sermons, two hymnals, and the four-volume New Testament in Greek, an influential translation and commentary which is still used today. The New Testament work had occupied him for twenty years, and though he began a similar effort on the Old Testament, poor health toward the end of his life forced him to abandon it.

His interest in hymnody began quite early, while away at school he
began writing hymns, and in 1821 he produced A Collection of Hymns for Sundry Occasions (at age 11!). The final verse of one of them reads as follows:

Just as a schoolboy longing for his home,
Leaps forth for gladness when the hour is come;
So true believers, eager for the skies,
Released by death, on wings of triumph rise.

Today's hymn, on a similar theme, was written only seven years later, while he was at Cambridge, but Alford still thought enough of it to include it in his two later hymnals published in 1844 and 1867.

Forth to the land of promise bound,
Our desert path we tread;
God's fiery pillar for our guide
And Jesus at our head.

E'en now we faintly trace the hills,
And catch their distant blue;
The golden city's gleaming spires
Rise dimly on our view.

Soon, when the desert shall be crossed,
The flood of death past o'er,
Our pilgrim hosts shall safely land
On Canaan's peaceful shore.

There love shall have its perfect work,
And prayer be lost in praise;
And all the people of our God
Their endless anthems raise.

Henry Alford, 1828; alt.
William Stevenson Hoyte, 1875

In 1866, Alford became the first editor of the new magazine Contemporary Review, which is still published today. In March of that year, he wrote an article which criticized “at considerable length” nine of the most popular hymnals of the day. It was probably no coincidence that he was at the same time preparing a new hymnal himself, The Year of Praise, which was intended to introduce congregational hymn singing to Canterbury Cathedral. It was first used at the cathedral on December 2, 1867, and Alford then wrote to one of his daughters:

Today was the first Sunday of the New Hymn Book in the Old Cathedral, and it sounded very nice. I preached on the subject in the afternoon from Psalm 67:3-5 (Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you).

After Alford's death in 1871, his wife, Frances Oke Alford, edited The Life, Journals, and Letters of Henry Alford D.D., Late Dean of Canterbury. The illustration of his library at Canterbury below is taken from that book.

One Year Ago: Henry Alford

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

William Batchelder Bradbury

William Batchelder Bradbury (October 6, 1816 - January 7, 1868) was an influential publisher as well as a composer whose tunes are is still sung today.

He was born in Maine, and when his family moved to Boston in 1830 he enrolled in
Lowell Mason's Boston Academy of Music, and sang in Mason's choir at the Bowdoin Street Church. In 1840 he moved to New York City, where he was the organist at Baptist churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan. He began a series of singing schools there, modeled on the efforts of Lowell Mason in Boston, and was instrumental in the effort to bring music instruction into the public schools of New York. It was during this work with children that he began composing songs for use in his classes.

Bradbury then traveled to Leipzig for two years, studying composition, piano and organ, and music education. While there he attended the funeral of Felix Mendelssohn. After his return, he continued to teach and compose, while becoming more active in publishing collections of Sunday school songs (many of his own composition) and other works, such as the oratorio Esther the Beautiful Queen (1856). His books were extremely popular; fifty-nine collections were published in his lifetime. The musical style of his earlier Sunday school songs led directly to the gospel song style of the later nineteenth century.

We have already seen a number of his tunes here on the blog (click on the Bradbury tag at the end of the entry to see them). One of the earliest songs most children learn is sung to a Bradbury tune: Jesus loves me, this I know. Today's song first appeared in his collection Devotional Hymn and Tune Book (1864), said to be the only Baptist hymnbook published in this country during the Civil War. It is almost certainly this tune that has kept this song in hymnals up to the present day; the text with a different tune may never have lasted.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When shadows seem to hide thy face,
I rest on thy unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Thy oath, thy covenant, thy blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
Thou then art all my hope and stay.

When thou shalt come with trumpet sound,
Oh. may I then in thee be found;
Clothed in thy righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Edward Mote, 1834; alt.
THE SOLID ROCK (L.M. with refrain)
William B. Bradbury, 1863

Edward Mote's text was originally published with six stanzas, but this is the version generally published over the last hundred years, with several of the couplets rearranged into these four stanzas.

Around the time of this tune's writing, Bradbury encountered a poet named Fanny Crosby and suggested that she might write texts for his collections. One of her first published gospel songs, There's a cry from Macedonia, was a collaboration with Bradbury. Following his death, his publishing company became Biglow & Main, probably the most preeminent gospel song publisher in the world between 1870 and 1910.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saint Francis of Assisi

Several church calendars mark October 4 as the Feast of Saint Francis. He was born Giovanni di Bernardone in 1182, and named for John the Baptist, though he was generally called Francesco because his mother was French, and his father had been away in France when he was born.

Francis was the founder of the religious order of
Franciscans, devoted to lives of poverty and service. As a young man, he had seen a vision of the crucified Christ, which is why he is often depicted in art as carrying a crucifix. He was named the patron saint of animals because of various stories of his preaching to birds and taming a wolf. Many people know Francis today due to the widespread popularity of pet blessings that are now held in many churches.

Francis's great hymn depicting God's creation singing God's praises, the Canticle of the Sun, comes down to us in various forms, but this version is probably the most familiar. The Reverend William Henry Draper translated and adapted the text and joined it to this tune in The Public School Hymn Book (1919). It has since appeared in dozens of hymnals, with various alterations.

All creatures of the earth and sky,
With gladness lift your voices high,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam:
O sing praises, O sing praises,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
Ye clouds that sail in heav'n along,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice:
O sing praises, O sing praises,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy God to hear,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest us both warmth and light:
O sing praises, O sing praises,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blesings on our way,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
The flow'rs and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them thy glory also show:
O sing praises, O sing praises,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

All ye of understanding heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Let all things their Creator bless,
Worshipping God in humbleness:
O sing praises, O sing praises,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Francis of Assisi, 1225;

paraphrase William H. Draper, 1919; alt.
Geistlische Kirchengesang, 1623

The modern-day popularity of Francis of Assisi as the patron saint of animals and the environment (perhaps helped by the 1972 film Brother Sun, Sister Moon) is challenged a bit in the Oxford Dictionary of Saints (1977).

This resulted in caricatures of a sentimental nature lover or a hippy 'drop out' from society, which omit the real sternness of his character and neglect his all-pervasive love of God and identification with Christ's sufferings, which alone make sense of his life.

One Year Ago: Harriet Auber

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Karolina Sandell-Berg

Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg, sometimes called “the Fanny Crosby of Sweden,” was born on this date in 1832. She is reported to have written about 650 hymns and songs, not matching Crosby in numbers, but probably in popularity in her own country.

Her father, a Lutheran pastor, drowned on a family outing when she was 26, and this tragic story is often cited as her inspiration for writing, but in fact she had written hymns before this happened. Like many women of her time, she preferred to remain nearly anonymous, signing her verses only “L.S.” The name of Lina Sandell would not be known for some time.

Her hymns were popularized in Sweden with the help of composer Oskar Ahnfelt, who wrote the music for them and traveled through the country singing them, accompanying himself on the guitar. Also, the opera star Jenny Lind (who had a nickname of her own, the “Swedish Nightingale”) often sang the Sandell/Ahnfelt hymns in recitals and financed the publication of an edition of the composer's songs (many of which had words by Lina). Sandell was married to C.O. Berg in 1867 and died in 1903.

Thus far it appears to me that her hymns were not translated into English until later in the twentieth century and are thus still under copyright in this country (though you can find some online in other places). Our Canadian commenter AuntE just this week posted on her blog about her first encounter with Lina's most well known hymn (here in the US at least), Children of the heavenly Father, which is sung to Ahnfelt's tune TRYGGARE KAN INGEN VARA (actually, the opening words of the hymn in the original Swedish). I'll keep looking for earlier translations of other Sandell-Berg hymns; it seems likely that at least a few were available earlier.