Monday, November 29, 2010

Louisa May Alcott

Popular novelist Louisa May Alcott was born on this day in 1832, in Pennsylvania, though she lived for most of her life in New England. Orchard House, in Concord, MA, was the Alcott family home for many years and is maintained today as a museum. Her father, Bronson Alcott, was a prominent intellectual of the day and other literary figures such as Henry David Thoreau. Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller were friends of the family.

However, Bronson Alcott was not particularly good at providing for his family, and Louisa went to work at an early age to help, serving as a teacher, governess, and seamstress in addition to some early writing. She wrote articles, stories, and poetry for the Atlantic Monthly and other magazines, publishing her first book of childrens' stories, Flower Fables, in 1849. She briefly served as a nurse during the Civil War, and in 1863 revised some of her letters home during that time, publishing them as Hospital Sketches. This was her first book to receive critical notice.

Five years later came the well-known and well-loved Little Women, which has never been out of print since. Three sequels followed, establishing Alcott as the wholesome author of uplifting tales for children. However, in the 1940s, literary sleuths Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine B. Stern discovered several short stories and novels that Alcott had published under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard. These tales were sensationalistic and somewhat lurid, a long way from the March sisters of Little Women, but Alcott has written most of them in the years before the acclaim of her childrens' novels, and the Barnard material had sold well, which was, after all, its purpose. Later novels for adults included Work (1873), which was also semi-autobiographical, and A Modern Mephistopheles (1873), which was much closer in tone to the Barnard stories and published anonymously.

Alcott herself said that she had written only one hymn, A little kingdom I possess. However, this poem about the life of Christ was set to music in Charles Hutchins' Carols Old and Carols New (1916) and has appeared in a few other collections since. I've chosen a more accessible tune for its possible use today.

O, the beautiful old story!
Of the little child that lay
In a manger on that morning,
When the stars sang in the day;
When the happy shepherds kneeling,
As before a holy shrine,
Bless’d God and the tender mother
For this life that was divine.

O, the pleasant, peaceful story!
Of the youth who grew so fair,
In his parents’ humble dwelling
Poverty and toil to share,
Till around him in the temple,
Marveling, the old men stood,
As through his wise innocency
Shone the meek boy’s angelhood.

O, the wonderful, true story!
Of the messenger from God,
Who among the poor and lowly,
Bravely and devoutly trod,
Working miracles of mercy,
Preaching peace, rebuking strife,
Blessing all the little children,
Lifting up the dead to life.

O, the sad and solemn story!
Of the cross, the crown, the spear,
Of the pardon, pain, and glory
That have made his Name so dear.
Christ's example let us follow,
Fearless, faithful to the end,
Walking in the sacred footsteps
Of our Brother, Savior, Friend.

Louisa May Alcott, 19th cent.; alt.
John Zundel, 1870 lists a few other Alcott texts that have appeared in hymnals, in spite of her own claim of a single hymn. As we have often seen, later generations choose their own hymns from the verse of the past.

Two Years Ago: John Haynes Holmes

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let New and Nobler Life Begin

A new year for the church begins today with the First Sunday in Advent as we prepare for the Incarnation later this month. The theme of the day in many churches is often not specifically about the birth of a baby, but closer to last week's Christ the King commemoration, talking about the coming of Jesus as the ruler of the world.

For our third Advent here at the blog we begin with a German Lutheran hymn from the seventeenth century,based in part on Psalm 24:7-10, translated by Catherine Winkworth in 1861 and appearing in many different versions across different denominations.

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
Behold, the King of glory waits;
The Word of Life is drawing near;
The Savior of the world is here!

O blest the land, the city blest,
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed!
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this Fount of Justice comes!

Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple, set apart
From earthly use for heaven’s employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.

Redeemer, come, with us abide;
Our hearts to Thee we open wide;
Let us thy inner presence feel;
Thy grace and love in us reveal.

So come, my Sovereign, enter in!
Let new and nobler life begin;
Thy Holy Spirit guide us on,
Until the glotious crown is won.

Georg Weissel, 1642;
tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1861; alt.
Tune: TRURO (L.M.)
Psalmodia Evangelica, Part II, 1789;
harm. Lowell Mason, 19th cent.

The longer version of this text, in Weissel's original meter, with eight-line stanzas, can be seen here. A modern translation by Gracia Grindal, Fling wide the door, which first appeared in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), uses the original German tune, MACHT HOCH DIE TUR, named for the first line of Weissel's text).

The annual Advent debate in undoubtedly underway in many places: Can we sing Christmas carols in worship during Advent? The answer here is still "No."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

With Countless Gifts of Love

Now thank we all our God,
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
In whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms
Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessèd peace to cheer us;
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.

Martin Rinkart, 1636;
tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1856
Johann Crüger, 1647

Monday, November 22, 2010

Successive Cecilias

I have mentioned before my ongoing interest in the women composers of worship music, including hymn tunes, gospel songs, and service music. It seems that today, the feast day of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, might be an appropriate time to share some of what I've learned over the last few years.

Over the last century there has been a good deal of interest in women who wrote hymn texts. There are a number of books on that topic, from Lady Hymn Writers (1897) and Songs from the Heart of Women (1903) up to Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus (2005). But the women who wrote the music for hymn texts are not so often studied or written about. While there has been increased interest in women composers in general over the last thirty years or so, most often they are women who wrote in larger forms, like symphonies or operas (such as Amy Beach), and the general books about them take no notice of the many women writing tunes for congregational singing.

Using the internet you can probably access more hymnals and songbooks than you'd find in most university or seminary libraries. I've downloaded hundreds of them and looked through many more that I didn't need cluttering up my hard drive. I also have a collection of hymnals in the dozens. Thus far I have unearthed over a thousand pieces composed by more than three hundred and fifty women, from standard four-part hymn tunes, gospel songs and children's songs to service music and Anglican chants. I'm focusing primarily on works in the public domain, published in this country before 1923, but most of these women are unknown to the singers of today. Most of their tunes appeared only in one book and never made it into the next generation of books.

These are the women thus far with more than a dozen tunes I've seen. I've written about some of them (the ones that are linked) but not others for various reasons (little or no information available about them, including birth or death dates, no sound files available, etc). Even most of these women rarely appear in the hymnals of today.

Mary Shaw Attwood
Pluma Brown
Grace Weiser Davis
Mari R. Hofer
Lucy Rider Meyer
Emma T. Mitchell
Emma Mundella

Having looked through many many nineteenth-century hymnals I've also compiled a list of the dozen or so women who had at least one tune that appeared in multiple hymnals before 1900.

Elizabeth Barker -- ST. JOHN DAMASCENE
Charlotte Barnard -- BROCKLESBURY
Mary Ann Browne -- PLYMOUTH ROCK
Elizabeth Cuthbert -- HOWARD
Frances Ridley Havergal -- HERMAS, EIRENE
Phoebe Knapp -- ASSURANCE
Mary Palmer -- CLARE MARKET
Ann Baird Spratt -- KEDRON
Sarah Stock -- MOEL LLYS (not named at that page, but that's it)
Charlotte Streatfield -- LANGTON
Maria Tiddeman -- IBSTONE
Lizzie Tourjée -- WELLESLEY

I would guess that only four of these tunes remain in somewhat common use today: BROCKLESBURY, HERMAS, ASSURANCE, and WELLESLEY. Some are simply not in a style that we would find melodic or interesting today, and some were written for a particular text in an unusual meter that is no longer sung.

Much of this music is perhaps not worthy of reconsideration. Much of it may never be sung again. But I believe that there are definitely things among these thousand-plus compositions that could be brought out in the open again. When we consider the whole vast body of musical composition for our hymns and songs, a certain percentage survives over time because it's good and singable. Another (far larger) percentage is discarded and forgotten, and deservedly so in many cases. But there are always things that were left behind because they never received a wide distribution. Tunes that appeared in one book with a minimal print run may deserve a second look, and we may find singable and serviceable music that can still be used in our worship.

I'm still looking, and the more I look, the more I suspect that I may have just scratched the surface of what is out there. The women of specific denominations and smaller groups wrote music that was seen and preserved by even fewer people, such as the Shakers or the Salvation Army. Religious communities of women have produced their own books for worship, such as the Holy Face Hymnal (1891), which was published by the Sisters of Mercy in Providence, RI. Most tunes in that book bear only the attribution "Music by S. of M." - we will probably never know the names of the women who wrote them.

If you have an obscure hymnal or two and think you may have something by a woman I haven't found, I'd be happy to hear about it. I think there are some further aspects to the subject that I'll write more about from time to time.

P.S. The illustration above is from Saint Cecilia at the Organ (1671), by Carlo Dolci

One Year Ago: Saint Cecilia

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Feast of Christ the King

We have come around again to the last Sunday in the church year, celebrated in many churches as the Feast of Christ the King. This is a relatively recent celebration, introduced in the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He decreed it in response to what he saw as growing nationalism and secularism in the early twentieth century, to be marked on the last Sunday in October. In 1969 Pope Paul VI moved the feast to its present date, and over the years a number of other denominations have come to observe it.

Given its relative newness, there isn't the same hymnic tradition that stretches back for a few centuries as with older celebrations such as Epiphany or Pentecost, but it was not an unexplored theme either. "King" as another name or attribute of Jesus is scriptural, and there are plenty of appropriate hymns to use. Sometimes, some of the hymns sung at Ascension are sung again today.

Hail, thou once-despised Jesus!
Hail, thou Galilean King!
Thou didst suffer to release us;
Thou didst free salvation bring.
Hail, thou universal Savior,
Bearer of our sin and shame,
By thy merit we find favor:
Life is given through thy Name.

Jesus, hail! enthroned in glory,
There for ever to abide;
All the heavenly hosts adore thee,
Seated at thy Father's side.
Worship, honor, power, and blessing
Thou art worthy to receive;
Highest praises, without ceasing,
Right it is for us to give.

Help, ye bright angelic spirits,
Bring your sweetest, noblest lays;
Help to sing our Savior's merits,
Help to chant Emmanuel's praise!
In that blessed contemplation,
We for evermore shall dwell;
Crown'd with bliss and consolation,
Such as none below can tell.

John Bakewell, 1757;
st. 3 Martin Madan, 1760; adapt.
Dutch traditional melody;
arr. Julius Rontgen, 1906

John Bakewell was a follower of John and Charles Wesley, but his authorship of this text is tenuous and appears to be based more on tradition than on any actual evidence. At any rate, if he did write it, he probably only wrote the first and second stanzas, which appeared in a 1757 "pamphlet" of 71 pages titled A Collection of Hymns addressed to The Holy, Holy, Holy, triune God, in the Person of Christ Jesus, our Mediator and Advocate. Various other alterations were made by Martin Madan in a few different books which followed; in some nineteenth century hymnals this appears as a five-stanza text. The hymn has appeared in American Methodist hymnals "virtually from the beginning," according to the Companion to the (Methodist) Hymnal (1970), and in Episcopal hymnals since 1874.

The familiar tune IN BABILONE comes from Oude en Nieuwe Hollantse Boerenlities en Contradanseu (Old and New Dutch Peasant Songs and Country Dances), published in the Netherlands in 1710. The arrangement by Julius Röntgen first appeared in Ralph Vaughan Williams's English Hymnal (1906), though it has been reharmonized several times since by composers such as T. Tertius Noble and Ellen Jane Lorenz.

Two (Liturgical) Years Ago: The Feast of Christ the King

One (Calendar) Year Ago: Ada Cambridge

Thursday, November 18, 2010

R. Kelso Carter

Russell Kelso Carter, born today in Baltimore in 1849, was a man of several careers, including military cadet, professor of chemistry, civil engineering, and advanced mathematics, sheep rancher, Methodist deacon and evangelist, and finally physician. Somewhere in there he also wrote and composed several gospel songs and helped compile two hymnbooks.

Carter graduated from the Pennsylvania Military Academy (now Widener University) in 1867. He returned to the Academy shortly thereafter to begin his teaching career, but health problems interrupted it and he moved to California for three years to work an a sheep ranch, returning to the Academy again in 1879. Around this time he started to become involved with the Methodist Episcopal Church, attending camp meetings and starting to write gospel songs. He collaborated with John R. Sweney on Hymns of Perfect Love (1886) and with A.B. Simpson on Hymns of the Christian Life (1891).

The introduction to that second collection (which includes our previously-seen Carter song as #1) begins with a discussion that remains as topical today as it was then:

The musical taste of our day is in a state of transition. Beyond controversy, the people will have new tunes and hymns that move in a more spirited time than those which our fathers (and mothers! CWS) sang. But this fact should not send us to an extreme, and cause us to relegate all the old hymns to the dusty past. (...) Between the Scotch Psalter and the Salvation Army Song Book there is a wide stretch of territory in which the careful explorer will find much that is good, and possessing that rare quality, endurance.

How many hymnals and songbooks before and after Carter's time, right up to the present, contain a similar paragraph!

This is Carter's most well-known song, for which he wrote both words and music, and which first appeared in his earlier collection of 1886. It has been said that it evokes a martial mood similar to songs he might have known from his military school days.

Standing on the promises of Christ, my King,
Through eternal ages let the praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
List'ning every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

R. Kelso Carter, 1886
PROMISES ( with refrain)

Throughout his life Carter faced several serious health challenges, which led him to explore different theories and means of faith healing, which you can read more about here. It appears that a serious dispute developed in the 1890s which may have caused his moving away from his evangelistic work. He studied medicine and became a doctor sometime before 1900, practicing until his death in 1928. He came to believe that both medicine and prayer were necessary for healing, and that God provided both to us for that purpose.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eliza Scudder

Hymnwriter Eliza Scudder was born today in Massachusetts in 1821. In childhood she was very close to her older sister Rebecca; this closeness lasted throughout their lives, and the sisters actually died on the same day in 1896.

Scudder was greatly influenced by the abolotionist movement and two of its leaders in particular: the philanthropist Gerrit Smith and the author Lydia Maria Child. It is believed that her association with Child led her away from the Congregational faith of her family and into an interest in the Unitarian Church (though it's not clear she ever formally joined it), which caused a break with many of her friends. Some years later she was drawn to the Episcopal Church through the preaching and then the friendship of Phillips Brooks, the popular rector of Trinity Church in Boston.

This flexibilty in her religious thought probably means that it's difficult to assign her hymn texts to any particular set of beliefs, and her hymns were indeed sung in several different denominations. Her short 1880 collection, Hymns and Sonnets, contained this text.

Grant us your peace, down from your presence falling
As on the thirsty earth cool night-dews sweet,
Grant us your peace, to your own paths recalling,
From distant ways, our worn and wand'ring feet.

Grant us your peace, through winning and through losing,
Through gloom and gladness of our pilgrim way,
Grant us your peace, safe in your love's enclosing,
Who o'er all things in heav'n and earth hold sway.

Grant us your peace, that like a deep'ning river
Swells ever onward to a sea of praise;
Jesus, of peace the only Source and Giver,
Grant us your peace, O Savior, all our days!

Eliza Scudder, 1880; alt.
Frances Ridley Havergal, 1871

Two Years Ago: Eliza Scudder

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Anne Steele

Today we mark the anniversary of the death of Anne Steele in 1778 (born sometime in May of 1716 in Hampshire), the first widely-known and sung woman hymnwriter. During her lifetime she wrote under the pen name of Theodosia (meaning "gift of God"), publishing her first collection, Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional in 1760.

Her hymns received wider recognition in 1769 when the fourth edition of A Collection of Hymns Adapted to Public Worship appeared with sixty-two of her hymns, quite a large number for a "newcomer." This Baptist hymnal was compiled by Caleb Evans, a minister and hymnologist who later wrote a memoir of Steele and greatly admired her verse.

Today's hymn was perhaps not intended by Steele for congregational singing, as she originally wrote it in thirty-nine stanzas. John Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology (1892) lists five different arrangements of stanzas which had appeared in hymnals up to that time; this is a sixth.

Come, heav'nly Love, inspire my song
With thy immortal flame,
And teach my heart, and teach my tongue
The Savior's lovely name.

The Savior! oh, what endless charms
Dwell in that blissful sound!
Its influence ev'ry fear disarms,
And spreads sweet comfort 'round.

Oh, the rich depths of love divine!
Of grace, a boundless store!
Dear Savior, let me call thee mine;
I cannot wish for more.

On thee alone my hope relies;
Beneath thy cross I fall
My Love, my Life, my Sacrifice,
My Savior, and my All!

Anne Steele, 1760; alt.
Phyllis Skene, c. 1902

Julian noted that the different versions of Steele's hymn sometimes had different opening lines; the original (as seen here) was altered in these ways:

Come, heav'nly Dove, inspire my song

Come, Holy Ghost, inspire our songs

Come, Holy Spirit, guide my song

Anne Steele's hymns remained popular through the nineteenth century but mostly have not survived into our time. Her complete works, finally collected and published in 1863, were republished by the Gospel Standard Baptist Trust of London in 1967, but did not, apparently, inspire a new generation of hymnal editors to reexamine her work.

Two Years Ago: Anne Steele

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And All Its Flocks Unite

The theme of unity can be an awkward one to discuss among Christians. given our multiplicity of denominations and doctrinal differences. The number of things we all agree on seems to grow smaller all the time when compared to the number of things we don't.

This text by Presbyterian minister Henry Van Dyke seems to me to come out of the early twentieth century's conception of the social gospel, from which we have received several of the great hymns of the church. That concept is under attack today by churches who believe that concern for others is far less important than the purity of their own beliefs. Van Dyke says that while our churches may never attain unity here on earth, our actions may at least come to some accord.

No form of human framing,
No bond of outward might,
Can bind thy church together, Lord,
And all its flocks unite;
But, Jesus, thou hast told us
How unity must be:
Thou art with God and Spirit one,
And we are one in thee.

The mind that is in Jesus
Will guide us into truth,
The humble, open, joyful mind
Of ever-learning youth;
The heart that is in Jesus
Will lead us out of strife,
The giving and forgiving heart
That follows love in life.

Where people do thy service,
Though knowing not thy sign,
Our hand is with them in good work,
For they are also thine.
Forgive us, Christ, the folly
That quarrels with thy friends,
And draw us nearer to thy heart,
Where every discord ends.

Henry J. Van Dyke, 1922; alt.
Henry J. Storer, 1891

This text first appeared in a short collection by Van Dyke, Thy Sea is Great, Our Boats are Small, and Other Hymns of Today (1922), prefacing the text with a verse from John 10:16: Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold. Van Dyke's most familiar hymn came several years earlier, Joyful, joyful we adore thee.

One Year Ago: Will L. Thompson

Saturday, November 6, 2010

William Tans'ur

William Tans'ur (1700 - 1783) was a composer and teacher of music, baptized on this day in 1706, the earliest known date connected with his life. Though born to parents Edward and Joan Tanzer, according to the parish register at Dunchurch, Warwickshire, the adult William began signing his name with the internal apostrophe; "an affectation," according to some sources.

Little is known about Tans'ur's life before adulthood. He was a teacher of music and published The New Musical Grammar in 1746, a textbook that remained in popular use for nearly a century. He taught psalmody and community singing in several different locations before settling in the town of St. Neot's, where he had a bookshop and continued to teach.

His first important volume of psalm tunes was A Compleat Melody, or the Harmonies of Zion (1734). It was republished several times, sometimes under other titles, and eventually in the American colonies in 1767. William Billings, the first significant American composer, is said to have been influenced by Tans'ur. Tans'ur's total output is estimated to be approximately two hundred tunes, as well as other choral anthems and service music.

Today's familiar tune comes from that 1746 volume by Tan'sur, where it was set to a paraphrase of Psalm 11, In God the Lord I put my trust. The first text I always associate with it is the Good Friday hymn Alone thou goest forth, a 1938 (copyrighted) translation by F. Bland Tucker that first appeared in the Episcopal Hymnal 1940, but many other texts have been matched to it over the years and it still appears in many, if not most, American hymnals.

O God, thy pow'r is wonderful,
Thy glory passing bright;
Thy wisdom, with its deep on deep,
A never-failing light.

I see thee in th'eternal years
In glory all alone,
Ere round thine uncreated fires
Created light had shone.

Still, still incomprehensible,
I see thee all through time;
Thy patience and compassion seem
New attributes sublime.

Angelic spirits, countless souls,
Of thee have drunk their fill;
And to eternity will drink
Thy joy and glory still.

O little heart of mine! shall pain
Or sorrow make thee moan,
When all this God is all for thee,
A Comfort all thine own?

Frederick W. Faber, 1854; alt.
William Tans'ur, 1734

The city of Bangor, Maine, apparently took its name from this tune by accident. The Reverend Seth Noble was sent to Boston in 1791 to fill out the paperwork for incorporation of the town, which was intended to be called Sunbury. The story goes that Noble was humming Tans'ur's tune while giving the necessary information to a clerk, and when asked the name, unwittingly gave the name of the tune rather than the name of the town, and "Bangor" was officially entered.

It seems possible to me that this is the tale that the Reverend Mr. Noble told his neighbors upon returning, that perhaps in truth he didn't particularly care for "Sunbury" himself, and decided to name his town for a hymn tune he particularly liked.

I know people who would do something like that.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

James Montgomery

James Montgomery, born today in 1771, was orphaned at a young age when his missionary parents died in the Caribbean. Young James had been left in the care of the Moravian community in Ireland and he attended their school. Later, intending to study for the ministry at the Fulneck Seminary near Leeds, he was expelled because he spent too much time writing poetry, and was apprenticed to a baker.

Apparently determined to write and not to bake, he ran away in 1787 and eventually traveled to London, looking unsuccessfully for opportunities to publish his poetry. In 1792 he was hired as the assistant to Joseph Gales, who published the Sheffield Register newspaper. Two years later Gales fled the country to avoid prosecution for publishing inflammatory political articles, and Montgomery took over the paper. He renamed it the Sheffield Iris and ran it for the next 33 years. Montgomery further followed in Mr. Gales's footsteps by being prosecuted twice; once for publishing a song in praise of the fall of the Bastille, and again for an article about a riot in Sheffield, which criticized the actions of the police.

His later interest in hymnwriting may have been increased through his friendship with Thomas Cotterill, the vicar of St. Paul's Church in Sheffield. Cotterill also wrote hymns, and had compiled a hymnal for use in his church which was forbidden by his bishop. The controversy over the hymnal lasted for some time, and Montgomery supported Cotterill in his efforts to encourage congregational singing. Cotterill's Se­lect­ion of Psalms and Hymns, for Public and Private Use, Adapt­ed to the Fes­tiv­als of the Church of Eng­land was finally approved for use in worship in 1820.

Montgomery's own hymns, approximately four hundred (only a fraction of which can be seen here), were published after this time, largely in three books: Songs of Zion, The Christian Psalmist, and The Christian Poet, and were later collected in one volume, Original Hymns for Pub­lic, Pri­vate and So­cial De­vo­tion (1853). Several of his hymns are still sung today, most of which we have already seen here (click on the tag below). This lesser-known text is his paraphrase of Psalm 23.

Thou, Lord, art my Shepherd, no want shall I know;
I feed in green pastures, safe folded I rest;
Thou leadest my soul where the still waters flow,
Restor'st me when wand’ring, redeem'st when oppressed.

Through valley and shadow of death though I stray,
Since thou art my Guardian, no evil I fear;
Thy rod shall defend me, thy staff be my stay;
No harm can befall, with my Comforter near.

In midst of affliction my table is spread;
With blessings unmeasured my cup runneth o’er;
With perfume and oil thou anointest my head;
O what shall I ask of thy providence more?

Let goodness and mercy, my bountiful God,
Still follow my steps till I meet thee above;
I seek, by the path which my forebears hath trod,
Through land of their sojourn, thy household of love.

James Montgomery, 1822; alt.
William J. Kirkpatrick, 1895

I suppose not everyone will want to sing this text to CRADLE SONG by William Kirkpatrick, better known as one of the tunes used at Christmas for Away in a manger. An alternative is the tune assigned by the Cyber Hymnal, GOOD SHEPHERD by Joseph Barnby, but in this case I like the more familiar tune.

Two Years Ago: James Montgomery

Another Birthday Today: Augustus Montague Toplady

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Feast of All Saints

The saints of God! their conflict past,
And life’s long battle won at last,Add Image
No more they need the shield or sword,
They cast them down before their Lord:
O happy saints! forever blest,
At Jesus' feet how safe your rest!

The saints of God! their wand’rings done,
No more their weary course they run,
No more they faint, no more they fall,
No foes oppress, no fears appall:
O happy saints! forever blest,
In that dear home how sweet your rest!

The saints of God! life’s voyage o’er,
Safe landed on that blissful shore,
No stormy tempests now they dread,
No roaring billows lift their head:
O happy saints! forever blest,
In that calm haven of your rest!

O God of saints! to thee we cry;
O Savior! plead for us on high;
O Holy Spirit! Guide and Friend,
Grant us thy grace till life shall end;
That with the saints our rest may be
In that bright paradise with thee!

William Dalrymple Maclagan, 1869
Tune: BEATI (
John Stainer, 1873