Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Horatius Bonar

Scottish hymnwriter Horatius Bonar (December 19, 1808 - July 31, 1889) wrote hymns which are loved by many, even though the churches he served as minister were not allowed to sing them.  Indeed, the Free Church of Scotland, of which he was a founding member, only voted to allow hymns to be sung in their worship in 2010.

Bonar was enthusiastically evangelistic; his impulse to leave the established Church of Scotland was rooted in a belief that the state clergy were really civil servants who were not effectively leading people to faith in God.  He later helped the American evangelist Dwight Moody to arrange to tour his revival meetings in Scotland.

O love of God, how strong and true!
Eternal, and yet ever new;
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought.

O wide embracing, wondrous love!
We read thee in the sky above,
We read thee in the earth below,
In seas that swell, and streams that flow.

O heavenly love, how precious still,
In days of weariness and ill,
In nights of pain and helplessness,
To heal, to comfort, and to bless!

We read thy power to bless and save,
E’en in the coldness of the grave;
Still more in resurrection light,
We read the fullness of thy might.

O love of God, our shield and stay
Through all the perils of our way!
Eternal Love, in thee we rest
Forever safe, forever blest.

Horatius Bonar, 1861; alt.
Tune: BOURBON (L.M.)
attrib. Freeman Lewis, 19th c.

For those who like modern hymn tunes, DE TAR by Calvin Hampton also works quite well with this text.

When Bonar was near death, he requested that no biography be written about his life, and no complete account of his life was published for many years afterward, which was unusual for such a popular and well known author and hymnwriter in his day.

Three Years Ago: Horatius Bonar

Two Years Ago: Horatius Bonar

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