Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Thirst Was Quenched

 In many churches during Lent, the hymns are a bit quieter and gentler.  Some places go so far as to restrict the use of the organ during the season.  

Today's quieter and gentler hymn by Horatius Bonar, loved by many, depicts the words of Jesus bringing comfort in various circumstances.  Each stanza is based on a specific passage of scripture: the first, from Matthew 11:28; the second, from John 6:35; and the third, from John 8:12.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, 
"Come unto me and rest.
Lay down, O weary one, lay down
Your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
And he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Behold, I freely give
The living water, thirsty one,
Stoop down, and drink, and live."
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am the living Light.
Look unto me, your morn shall rise,
And all your day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk,
Till traveling days are done.

Horatius Bonar, 1846; alt.
Thomas Tallis, 1567

This text has been matched with several different tunes over the years, but I like this one best for its contemplative mood (it should perhaps be played a bit slower than on the sound file here).  Two tunes often used in the nineteenth century which were written specifically for this text are VOX DILECTI by John Bacchus Dykes and AUDITE AUDIENTES ME by Arthur Sullivan.  Both of them change key from major to minor for the second half of each stanza which tells the result of hearing the voice of Jesus.  It's the kind of compositional trick that was once admired but is less popular today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wadnesday

This Lent, as taught by holy lore,
We keep in solemn course once more;
The fast to all is known, and bound
In forty days of yearly round.

The ancient seers that were of old
In diverse ways this Lent foretold
Which Christ, all seasons’ guard and guide,
In after ages sanctified.

Remember thou, though frail we be,
That yet thine handiwork are we;
Nor let the honor of thy name
Be by another put to shame.

Forgive the sin that we have wrought;
Increase the good that we have sought;
That we at length, our wanderings o’er,
May please thee here and evermore.

Latin, 11th cent,;
tr. John Mason Neale, 1854; alt.
Tune: FORD (L.M.)
Thomas Ford, 1614

Five Years Ago: Lord, who throughout these forty days

Four Years Ago:  Awhile in spirit, Christ, to thee

Two Years Ago:  O Christ, whose tender mercy hears

One Year Ago: All who seek a comfort sure

Sunday, February 3, 2013

William Howard Doane

William Howard Doane, who was born on this date in 1832, has often been described in hymn histories as an enthusiastic amateur, but the hundreds of gospel song melodies he composed have been sung by many thousands of people over the last 150 years.  He worked for more than forty years in the manufacturing field, but continued composing and editing collections of gospel and Sunday school songs in his spare time.

He composed his first music at age sixteen, and by the age of twenty he was the conductor of the Norwich Harmonic Society in Connecticut.  The first collection he compiled, Sabbath School Gems, was published in 1862, but by that time he had already been employed for more than a decade by the J. A. Fay Company, and had been the managing partner of the firm for two years.

A later collection, Pure Gold for the Sunday School (1871), which he edited with Robert Lowry, contained this popular song, which is probably still remembered by many.

Take the name of Jesus with you,
Through your sorrow and your woe,
It will joy and comfort give you;
Take it then, where’er you go.

Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heav’n.
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heav’n.

Take the name of Jesus ever,
As a shield from every care;
If temptations round you gather,
Breathe that holy name in prayer.

O the precious name of Jesus!
How it thrills our souls with joy,
When his loving arms receive us,
Blissful songs our tongues employ!

Lydia Baxter, 1870; alt.
Tune: PRECIOUS NAME ( with refrain)
William H. Doane, 1871

Many of Doane's most well-known songs were written to texts by Fanny Crosby, but he composed tunes for many other writers, and even wrote a number of texts himself.  He also wrote a series of Christmas cantatas which were widely sung, and some of these were secular, including one called Santa Claus (1879).

Some of Doane's papers, including correspondence with other gospel song writers and composers, are preserved at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, IL

Four Years Ago: William Howard Doane

Three Years Ago:  William Howard Doane

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Feast of the Presentation

In the temple now behold him,
See the long-expected Lord;
Ancient prophets had foretold him,
Now fulfilled God's promised word.

Simeon and Anna hail him
Ere in faith and hope they die.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Lo, th’incarnate God most high.

Jesus, by thy presentation,
Thou, who didst for us endure,
Help us know thy great salvation,
Seal us with thy promise sure.

Henry J. Pye, 1851; alt.
William Boyce, 1765

For more on this feast day (also known as Candlemas) which is not particularly well-known, but which has a number of nice hymns, see the links below.  The fifteenth-century painting above is The Presentation of Christ in the Temple by Fra Angelico.

Five Years Ago: O Zion, open wide thy gates

Four Years Ago: Hail to the Lord who comes

Three Years Ago:  O Jerusalem belov├Ęd

Two Years Ago: In peace and joy I now depart