Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Samuel Longfellow

Poet and hymnist Samuel Longlellow was born today in 1819, in Portland, Maine.He attended the Portland Academy, following his elder brother Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and apparently showed a talent for literary writing from a fairly young age.
 I have already recounted his days at Harvard Divinity School, where, with his classmate Samuel Johnson he compiled the Book of Hymns for Public and Private Devotion (1844).  In this book, as well as another they worked on later, Hymns of the Spirit (1864), several hymns we know today appeared for the first time, both those of Longfellow and Johnson, as well as some taken from the poetry of others that had not been originally conceived for congregational singing.

Longfellow's birthday does not quite fall during summer's official dates, but the weather is generally here by the eighteenth of June.

The summer days are come again;
Once more the glad earth yields
Its golden wealth of ripening grain,
And breadth of clover fields,
And deepening shade of summer woods,
And glow of summer air,
And winging thoughts, and happy moods
Of love and joy and prayer.

The summer days are come again;
The birds are on the wing;
God’s praises, in their loving strain,
Unconsciously they sing.
We know who gives us all the good
That makes our cup o’erflow;
For summer joy in field and wood
Songs lift from all below.

Samuel Longfellow, 1859; alt.
Traditional English melody;
arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906

After living in various parts of New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, Longfellow died in the city of his birth, while on a visit back to Portland on October 3, 1892.

Longfellow remains one of my own favorite hymnwriters, and many of his texts have appeared on the blog, not just on his birthday.  You can click on the tag at the very bottom for more beyond the birthday links.

Five Years Ago: Samuel Longfellow

Four Years Ago: Samuel Longfellow

Two Years Ago: Samuel Longfellow

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