Thursday, October 30, 2014

Christopher Wordsworth

Bishop Christopher Wordsworth (October 30, 1807, - March 20, 1885) was the son of an Anglican minister and the nephew of England's Poet Laureate William Wordsworth.  He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where his father was also Master.  Successful both in scholarship and athletics, he was nicknamed "Great Christopher" at school for the many honors and awards he received.  

After taking holy orders in 1830 he remained in the education field at Cambridge and Harrow, finally becoming the vicar of the Anglican parish of Stanford-in-the-Vale-cum-Goosey in Berkshire for eighteen years.  He was appointed Bishop of Lincoln in 1869, where he remianed until his death.

He published several books in various areas of scholarship.  Most of his hymns appeared in The Holy Year (1862) a collection he edited which contains hymns for each Sunday of the church's liturgical year as well as for various feast days of the Anglican church.

 O God of heav’n and earth and sea,
To thee all praise and glory be;
How shall we show our love to thee,
Who givest all?

The golden sunshine, vernal air,
Sweet flowers and fruits, thy love declare;
Where harvests ripen, thou art there,
Who givest all.

For peaceful homes and healthful days,
For all the blessings earth displays,
We owe thee thankfulness and praise,
Who givest all.

We lose what on ourselves we spend,
We have as treasure without end
Whatever, God, to thee we lend,
Who givest all.

Whatever, God, we lend to thee,
Repaid a thousand-fold will be;
Then gladly will we give to thee
Who givest all.

To thee, from whom we all derive
Our life, our gifts, our power to give:
O may we ever with thee live,
Who givest all.

Christopher Wordsworth, 1863; alt.
Robert N. Quaile, 19th cent. 

Now this hymn is even more appropriate for the season of stewardship that many churches are currently observing.

Six Years Ago: Christopher Wordsworth 

Five Years Ago: Adelaide Anne Procter

Four Years Ago: Adelaide Anne Procter

Sunday, October 26, 2014

No Act Falls Fruitless

In this time of year many churches are emphasizing the theme of stewardship in preparation of their annual budgets.  Unsurprisingly, this is generally considered to be about money, but sometimes there will be discussion about other gifts we can bring to our communities and to the wider world.  This hymn reminds us of the smallest kinds of things that we can do every day in the stewardship of our spiritual mission.

Scorn not the slightest word or deed,
Nor deem it void of power;
There’s fruit in each wind-wafted seed
That waits its natal hour.

A whispered word may touch the heart,
And call it back to life:
A look of love bid fear depart,
And still discordant strife.

No act falls fruitless; none can tell
How vast its power may be,
Nor what results infolded dwell
Within it silently. 

Work on, despair not, bring your mite,
Nor care how small it be; 
God is with all that serve the right:
The holy, true, and free.

Anonymous, 1845; alt.
Thomas Tallis, 1567

The 'mite' in the last stanza refers to the widow's mite, or offering, in Mark 12:41-44;  Generations of Sunday School children filled mite-boxes with small coins each year (and probably still do).

The language of this text is perhaps a bit more formal than necessary, but I still think there's some value in an older text like this, unknown though it may be..

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Claudia Frances Hernaman

Hymnwriter Claudia Frances Hernaman was born on this day in 1838, in the English village of Addlestone, the daughter of the Reverend W. H. Ibotson, an Anglican priest. She wrote for a number of church publications at a fairly young ago, turning her attention to religious poetry and hymn texts, primarily for children. She also translated several hymns from Latin. and published several collections of her work.

Her most familiar text (perhaps the only one still regularly in use), sung across many denominations, is the Lenten hymn Lord, who throughout these forty days.  Today's hymn for children was written to mark any saints' day in the church calendar.  While we have seen many hymns written for particular saints, there are others such as this that can be sung for any saint's day. October 19, for example, does not mark any well-known saints, but there are still people on the calendar.

All thy saints adore thee, Lord,
Sing thy praise with one accord;
Magnify thy holy Name,
And thy boundless love proclaim.

Saints in paradise at rest,
Saints, by earthly trials pressed,
One in thee, with one glad voice,
Evermore in thee rejoice.

Now, O God, thy praise we tell,
In this saint who served thee well,
Who was strong in Jesus' might,
Conquering evil in the fight.

Grant us, God, with equal faith,
Thee to follow until death,
And, through all eternity,
With the saints to worship thee.

Claudia Frances Hernaman, 19th cent.; alt.
Tune: ST. BEES (
John Bacchus Dykes, 1862

This simple tune by the prolific Victorian composer John Bacchus Dykes, was apparently named for the village of St. Bees in northern England.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Frederick Lucian Hosmer

Frederick Lucian Hosmer (October 16, 1840 - June 7, 1929), Unitarian minister, hymnwriter and hymnal editor,  was born in Framingham, Massachusetts.  He graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1869, a generation later than Samuel Longfellow, in whose hymnodic footsteps Hosmer would travel.

Today's hymn was written by Hosmer for the January 1891 dedication of the Unity Church of Decorah, Iowa (a Unitarian congregation, building pictured below).  In the nineteenth and early twentieth century there were several different texts written by various poets to be sung to the familiar tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic (or John Brown's Body) such as the one we have already seen by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

From age to age they gather, all the brave of heart and strong;
In the strife of truth with error, of the right against the wrong;
I can see their gleaming banner, I can hear their triumph song;
The truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! The truth is marching on!

The earth is circling onward out of shadow into light;
The stars keep watch above our way, however long the night;
For every martyr’s stripe there glows a bar of morning bright;
And love is marching on!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! And love is marching on!

Lead on, O cross of urgent faith, with thee is victory;
Shine forth, O stars and reddening dawn, the full day yet shall be;
God's dominion quickly cometh, and with joy our eyes shall see,
Our God is marching on!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Our God is marching on!

Frederick Lucian Hosmer, 1891: alt.  
Tune: BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC (Irregular with refrain)
William Steffe (coll.), c.1856

The theme of the coming reign of God appears in other texts by Hosmer, includimg somewe have already seen here (links below).

Six Years Ago: Frederick Lucian Hosmer

Five Years Ago: Frederick Lucian Hosmer  

Four Years Ago: Frederick lucian Hosmer