Wednesday, March 2, 2016

John Samuel Bewley Monsell

Irish clergyman,  poet, and hymnwriter John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-1875), born today in Londonderry, wrote approximately 300 hymns among his poetry, nearly a quarter of which were fairly well known during the nineteenth century.  

The first edition of the Dictionary of Hymnology (1892) by John Julian mentioned eleven volumes of poetry and hymns by Monsell, and that several of the hymns appeared in more than one of these collections.  In the revised edition of the work (1907) it is noted that another, twelfth volume (including some previously-uncounted hymns) was located that was previously unknown to Julian, Prayers and Litanies (1861), though most sources still attribute only eleven volumes to J.S.B. Monsell.  The note continues: "We can sincerely add that few hymn writers are so perplexing to the annotator as Dr. Monsell."

Today's hymn first appeared in his Hymns of Love and Praise for the Church Year (1866), a collection conceived in similar fashion to others we have seen by John Keble, Christopher Wordsworth, and Edward Henry Bickersteth.  

I hunger and I thirst!
Jesus, my manna be;
Ye living waters burst
Out of the Rock for me.

Thou bruised and broken Bread,
My life-long wants supply;
As living souls are fed,
So feed me or I die.

Thou true Life-giving Vine,
Let me thy sweetness prove;
Renew my life with thine,
Refresh my soul with love.

For still the desert lies
My thirsting soul before;
O living waters, rise
Within me evermore!

John Samuel Bewley Monsell, 1866; alt.
Maria Tiddeman, 1875

While this text appeared in Hymns of Love and Praise in the section for Holy Communion, I think it also makes an effective prayer hymn for the season of Lent.  It's now available on this blog's Facebook page: Conjubilant W. Song.

Four Years Ago: John Samuel Bewley Monsell

Six Years Ago: All beautiful the march of days

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