Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Confession of Saint Peter

On some church calendars, January 18 is marked to commemorate the Confession of Saint Peter, as told in Matthew 16:13-20Saint Peter is often depicted with large keys,  probably deriving from this same passage where Jesus says he will give Peter "the keys to the kingdom of heaven."

By all your saints still striving,
For all your saints at rest,
Your holy Name, O Jesus,
Forevermore be blessed!
For those passed on before us,
We sing our praise anew
And, walking in their footsteps, 

Would live our lives for you.

Praise for your great apostle,
The eager and the bold,
Thrice failing, yet repentant,
Thrice charged to keep your fold;
God, make your pastors faithful,
To guard their flocks from ill,
And grant them dauntless courage,
With humble, earnest will.

We pray for saints we know not,

For saints still yet to be,
For grace to bear true witness
And serve you faithfully,
Till all the ransomed number
Who stand before the throne
Ascribe all power and glory
And praise to God alone.

Horatio Bolton Nelson, 1864; alt.
Tune: ZOAN (

William Henry Havergal, 1859

This tune by William Henry Havergal (1793-1870) is no longer well known but it has appeared in many hymnals, and was chosen today because January 18 is also Havergal's birthday.  He was a prominent name in the mid-nineteenth century for his work in hymnody; he wrote several hymn texts, but more importantly, he wrote tunes and worked to reestablish many older psalm tunes, arranging and harmonizing them according to the musical tastes of his time so that they would be widely used again as they had been in previous centuries. One of his daughters, hymnwriter and composer Frances Ridley Havergal is probably more widely known today.

Two Years Ago: The Confession of Saint Peter 

Six Years Ago: William Henry Havergal

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