Monday, June 10, 2013

Minot Judson Savage

Minot Judson Savage (June 10, 1841 - May 22, 1918) was first ordained as a Congregationalist minister (his family background) but later became a Unitarian, having 'struggled with his orthodoxy,' according to one source.

We see, perhaps, some evidence of this in today's hymn by Savage.  While ordinarily I prefer to select hymns that, while often little-known, could still be sung in churches today, this one would probably not be very useful.  It may never really have been sung anywhere; it was published in Savage's own collection of hymns in 1899.

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was in circulation by the mid-nineteenth century, and different religious denominations had different reactions to it, many of which continue to this day.  Not all those reactions have been negative; there certainly have been people of faith who accepted evolution as part of the story of creation.  Minot Savage wrote a book titled The Religion of Evolution (1876) in which he sought to reconcile faith and evolution rather than to declare them incompatible.  He dedicated the book to the Boston Unitarian congregation he was then leading, the Church of the Unity, which was, as he wrote:

"...willing to bear the pain of thought, brave enough to hear what is new, and having faith that God will lead the free and the earnest to himself..."

This is Savage's (perhaps unsung) hymn on the sublect of evolution.

The one life thrilled the star-dust through,
In nebulous masses whirled,
Until, globed like a drop of dew,
Shone out a new-made world.

The one life on the ocean shore,
Through primal ooze and slime,
Crept slowly on from less to more
Along the ways of time.

The one life all the ages though
Pursued its wondrous plan,
Till, as the tree of promise grew,
It blossomed into man.

The one life reaches onward still:
As yet no eye may see
The far-off fact our dreams fulfil --
The glory yet to be.

Minot Judson Savage, 1899
Hugh Wilson, 1800;
arr. Ralph E. Hudson, 1885

Even for those that accept the theory of evolution, this is probably a bit too much.

Two Years Ago: Minot Judson Savage

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