Saturday, December 31, 2016

John Robson Sweney (Day Seven)

Composer and songbook editor John R. Sweney (1837-1899) loved music all his life. He began teaching music in schools and leading Sunday School music as a teen, and a few years later began to study in earnest, taking lessons in piano and violin, while at the same time conducting a number of choral groups both sacred and secular.

It's estimated that he wrote tunes for more than a thousand gospel songs, and wrote texts for some of them as well.  He edited many songbooks for the firm of John J. Hood in Philadelphia, as well as a few other publishers, and collaborated with most of the famous songwriters of his day, including, of course, Fanny Crosby. It appears that this Christmas song by Sweney and Crosby was first published in Bright Melodies for the Sunday School and Young People's Societies (1899), though copyrighted a year earlier - probably in time for Sweney's Christmas celebrations in 1898.

Come away, the bells are calling,
Merry bells of Christmas time;
Youthful hearts again are bounding
While we catch their tuneful chime.

Merry, merry bells, merry, merry bells,
Listen to their carol and the joy it tells;
Ringing far and near, ringing sweet and clear,
O the blessèd music of the old-time bells.

Come away, they still are calling,
While, to crown our festal scene,
Busy fingers now are twining
Wreaths of holly bright and green

Come away, our faith is calling,
And we look with loving eyes
On a lowly manger cradle
Where the infant Savior lies.

Fanny Crosby, 1898
Tune: BELLS ARE CALLING ( with refrain)
John R. Sweney, 1898

Eight Years Ago: A year of precious blessings

Seven Years Ago: John Robson Sweney (with more Christmas Fanny Crosby)

Six Years Ago: William Orcutt Cushing

One Year Ago: The winter night was dark and still

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Loveliest Blooming Rose (Day Six)

This carol comes from the Kancional (1602) a songbook of the Bohemian Brethren collected by Tobias Zavorka Lipensky (1554-1612). It still appears in Lutheran and Mennonite hymnals today. Zavorka was a pastor in the Bohemian city of Doubrava (now in the Czech Republic), and his influential hymnal contained more than a thousand hymns, songs, and antiphons. The most information available about Lipensky online (which still isn't much) is found only in the Czech version of Wikipedia (though you can translate it with the button at the top of that page).

Let our gladness have no end,
For to earth did Christ descend.

On this day God gave us
Jesus Christ, to save us;
Jesus Christ, to save us.

Prophesied in days of old,
Humbly born, as was foretold,

See, the loveliest blooming Rose,
From the branch of Jesse grows.

Into flesh is made the Word.
Christ, our refuge and our Lord.

Kancional, 1602; 
tr. unknown; alt.
Tune: NARODILSE KRISTUS PÁN ( with refrain)
Bohemian carol, 15th cent.

P.S. - If you followed a Facebook link to get here you can click on the blog logo above to see the rest of the current Twelve Days of Christmas celebration.

Eight Years Ago: William Croft

Seven Years Ago: Music I love -- but ne'er a strain

Four Years Ago: Like the sound of many waters

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Word Becomes Incarnate (Day Five)

A great and mighty wonder,
A full and holy cure:
A Mother bears the Infant
With virgin honor pure!

Proclaim the Savior's birth:
"To God on high be glory
And peace to all the earth!"

The Word becomes incarnate
And yet remains on high,
And cherubim sing anthems
To shepherds from the sky.

While thus they sing your Ruler,
Those bright angelic bands
Rejoice, ye vales and mountains,
Ye oceans, clap your hands.

And ancient forms shall perish,
And error shall decay,
And Christ shall wield his scepter,
Our Living God for aye.

St. Germanus, c. 7th cent.
tr. John Mason Neale, 1862; alt.
Tune: ES IST EIN ROS' ( with refrain)
Alte Catholische Geistliche Kirchengasäng, 1599

This hymn is still sung in some places, having survived mostly in Lutheran hymnals, though it predates Martin Luther by several centuries. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, is a saint in both the Eastern and Western churches. Some of his hymns, including this one, were translated from Greek by John Mason Neale in his Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862).

The tune is much better known for its match with Lo, how a rose e'er blooming, which still does appear in most modern hymnals. This popularity is at least partly responsible for the loss of Neale's translated text, as we rarely sing two different texts to the same tune for the same occasion.

Seven Years Ago: Go, tell it on the mountain

One Year Ago: All praise to thee, O Jesus Christ

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Even Children the Anthem Ring (Day Four)

Peace upon earth! the angels sang,
Good will unto all! the chorus rang,
Glory to God! the Christ has come,
A bright star shines in the clear blue dome.

Joyously sing, praises we bring,
Joyously sing, praises we bring!
Loud hallelujahs to Christ we sing!

Peace upon earth! ’tis sounding still,
Glory unto God, to all good will!
Bethlehem’s song, ’tis caught from far,
And lifted up, to that glowing star.

Jesus has come! it echoes wide,
Thro’ valley and plain, on mountainside;
But not alone the angels sing,
For even children the anthem ring.

Yes! let them sing, for Christ has laid
His hand with a blessing on their head;
Sweeter to him than angels’ tones
Are songs that come from the little ones.

Julia A. Mathews, 1871
Tune: PEACE UPON EARTH ( with refrain)
Robert Lowry, 1871

One genre that has all but disappeared in our modern Yuletide celebrations is the Christmas gospel song, though I have excavated a few in our two previous Twelve Days of Christmas outings (such as the one at the Seven Year link below), and there's at least one more coming up this season. Gospel songs, also known as Sunday School songs, were the contemporary Christian music of their day (peaking between 1870 and 1920 or so) and very few of the thousands of pieces written and published are still sung today, let alone those on the theme of Christ's birth.

Robert Lowry, who wrote both words and music at various times, does have some familiar songs that we still sing today, such as: Shall we gather at the river and Marching to Zion but I'd imagine that it's been many years since anyone sang this Christmas song which was published in his collection Pure Gold for the Sunday School (1871). He did manage to contribute one surviving gospel song to the Easter repertory: Low in the grave you lay.

Seven Years Ago: Peaceful the wondrous night

One Year Ago: Calm on the listening ear of night

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

John Goss (Day Three)

English composer and church musician John Goss was born today in 1800, in Hampshire.  His father was an organist and John would have a long career in the same profession.  As a child, he went to live with an uncle in London who was "an alto singer of distinction" and he became a chorister in the Chapel Royal, where he sang under John Stafford Smith (best known as the composer of The Anacreontic Song, the tune of which would later cross the ocean to be matched with The Star Spangled Banner).  After his voice changed, he began to study composition with Thomas Attwood, organist at St. Paul's Cathedral. He also sang tenor briefly with the opera chorus at Covent Garden.

His first organist position began in 1821 at the Stockwell Chapel. In December 1824 he was appointed to be the first organist at St. Luke's in Chelsea after winning a competition.  While there he published Parochial Psalmody (1826), a four-volume collection of tunes for the psalm paraphrases and hymns used in most Anglican churches of the day.

His mentor Thomas Attwood died in 1838, and Goss became organist at St. Paul's, where he would stay until retiring in 1872.  He also had a long tenure (47 years) as Professor of Harmony at the Royal Academy of Music.  In 1841 he published Chants Ancient and Modern, which contained 257 chant settings for the Psalms (and makes you wonder if the title inspired the committee which brought out a certain hymnal in the next decade).  He collaborated with James Turle, organist at Westminster Abbey, on the three-volume Cathedral Services Ancient and Modern (1846), and was the musical editor for the Church Psalter and Hymn Book (1856). All of these books were influential in the development of church music in England in the middle of the nineteeth century.

Goss's own compositions were primarily for the church, encompassing chants, anthems, services, and, of course, hymn tunes. In 1856 he was appointed composer at the Chapel Royal where his musical career had started. He was knighted in 1872 following his composition of a Te Deum and the anthem The Lord is my strength for the occasion of a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's for the restored health of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).

As we are in the middle of another Twelve Days of Christmas here, we have today a tune usually credited to Goss and a text by William Walsham How (which strays a bit beyond Christmas, admittedly). ARTHUR'S SEAT by Goss seems to have first appeared in the American collection Hymns and Songs of Praise for Public Worship (1874). The musical editors of this book were John Knowles Paine and Uzziah C. Burnap, and in a later hymnal, the tune is credited to Goss and to Burnap as arranger. Where this melody appears in the works of Goss has not yet been identified, though the tune appears in many hymnals, up to the present, with Goss listed as composer.

Behold a little child, laid in a manger bed;
The wintry blasts blow wild around his infant head;
But who is this so lowly laid?
’Tis Christ by whom the worlds were made.

Alas! in what poor state the Child of God is seen;
Why did our God so great choose out a home so mean?
That we may learn from pride to flee,
And follow Christ's humility.

Where Joseph plies his trade, there Jesus labors, too;
The hands that all things made an earthly craft pursue,
That weary souls in him may rest,
And faithful toil through Christ be blessed.

Christ, once thyself a boy, our lifelong guard and guide;
Be thou its light and joy, and still with us abide,
That thy dear love, so great and free,
May draw us evermore to thee.

William Walsham How, 1872; alt.
John Goss, 19th cent;
arr. Uzziah C. Burnap, 1874

Arthur's Seat is actually a mountain in Edinburgh, but no one knows why this tune was named for it.

John Goss died on May 10, 1880 and was buried at St. Paul's. Most of his compositions, like those of his Victorian contemporaries, have not survived well, except for a few anthems, chants, and hymn tunes.  He is described in the (Episcopal) Hymnal 1940 Companion as "no exceptional genius, but a sincere and skillful craftsman, writing solidly and well for the voice." Trevor Beeson's book In Tuneful Accord (2008), a study of Anglican church musicians and composers, admits that "It is possible, however, that some good parish church choirs view his work more favourably."

Eight Years Ago: John Goss

(Also) Eight Years Ago: Saint John the Evangelist

Seven Years Ago: Saint John the Evangelist

(Also) Seven Years Ago: Shepherds rejoice! life up your eyes

Four Years Ago: Saint John the Evangelist (and a tune by Goss)

One Year Ago: Above all the roar of the cities

(Also) One Year Ago: Saint John the Evangelist

Monday, December 26, 2016

Clasping Hands With Distant Ages (Day Two)

Now the joyful Christmas morning,
Breaking o’er the world below,
Tells again the wondrous story
Of the Christ Child long ago.
Hark! we hear again the chorus
Echoing thro’ the starry sky,
And we join the heav’nly anthem,
Glory be to God on high!

Out of every clime and people,
Under every holy name,
Is the everlasting Gospel
Good and glad for aye the same;
So we, in our happy Christmas,
Breathe the universal creed,
Clasping hands with distant ages
All in unity indeed.

Sing aloud, then, hearts and voices!
Shout, O new world, free and strong!
Hail of Light the deathless triumph,
Join the old world’s birthday song —
Glory be to God the Highest!
Peace on earth, good will to all!
’Twas the morning stars that pealed it —
Let the whole world heed the call.

Mary Noel Meigs, 1883; alt.
Lowell Mason, 1840

The appropriately-named Mary Noel Meigs published this hymn in Sacred Songs for Public Worship (1883), a Unitarian collection edited by Minot Judson Savage. I don't know her entire output, but the handful of her hymns that are listed at the Cyber Hymnal and are all Christmas-themed.

Seven Years Ago: Good King Wenceslas

Two Years Ago: Saint Stephen

One Year Ago: While shepherds, watching flocks by night

Sunday, December 25, 2016

To Gain the Everlasting Hall (Day One)

Good Christian friends, rejoice 
With heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News!
Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and donkey humbly bow
To Jesus in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian friends, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy!
Jesus Christ was born for this!
Christ has opened heaven's door,
And we are blessed evermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian friends, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all,
To gain the everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

Heinrich Suso, 14th cent.
para. John Mason Neale, 1853; alt.
German melody, 14th cent.

It seems likely that most new hymnals published in the twenty-first century are going to change the original "Good Christian men, rejoice..."

The German original text by Heinrich Suso began Nun singet und seid froh and Suso claimed that the text was given to him by angels who led him in a dance.  It was adapted and translated several different ways over the next few centuries until our old friend John Mason Neale discovered it in a book of medieval Latin texts published in Sweden called Piae Cantones (1582) and produced this rather free paraphrase. The tune was also adapted by Neale's colleague Thomas Helmore for their book Carols for Christmas-tide (1853). It was apparently an error in transcription by Helmore which added an extra two notes to the third line of each stanza that Neale had to fill (e.g. 'News! News!).

P.S. - Yes, 'Day One' at the top means that we are in for another Twelve Days of Christmas here at the blog, only one year after the last one.  Hymns, songs and such for the season will continue through the Feast of the Epiphany.

Eight Years Ago: Once in royal David's city

Two Years Ago: What child is this

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Angels' Song Still Rings in the Height

Like silver lamps in a distant shrine,
The stars are sparkling bright;
The bells of the city of God ring out,
For the Child of Mary is born tonight.
The gloom is past, and the morn at last
Is coming with orient light.

No earthly songs are half so sweet
As those which are filling the skies,
And never a palace shone half so fair
As the manger-bed where our Savior lies;
No night in the year is half so dear
As this which has ended our sighs.

The stars of heaven still shine as at first
They gleamed on this wonderful night,
The bells of the city of God peal out,
And the angels’ song still rings in the height,
And Love still turns where the Godhead burns,
Veiled in flesh from earthly sight.

Faith sees no longer the stable floor,
The pavement of sapphire is there,
The clear light of heav'n streams out to the world,
And the angels of God are crowding the air,
And heav'n and earth, through the Christ-child's birth,
Are at peace on this night so fair.

William Chatterton Dix, 1867; alt.
Tune: THE MANGER THRONE (Irregular)
Charles H. Steggall, 1867

Eight Years Ago: It came upon the midnight clear

Seven Years Ago: While shepherds watched their flocks by night

Six Years Ago: Jesus our brother, strong and good

Four Years Ago: Silent night, holy night

Monday, December 19, 2016

Horatius Bonar

Scottish poet Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) presents us with a bit of a paradox - a clerical hymnwriter whose hymns could not be sung in his own church. It was not until six years ago, in 2010, that the Free Church of Scotland (of which Bonar was a founding member) allowed the singing of hymns. The web site of that denomination today gives a "comprehensive list of recommended hymns," and fortunately some of Bonar's many hymn texts are included.

Bonar was one of eleven children, born into an Edinburgh family which can boast of more than three hundred years of service to the church. In 1837 he took on his first pastorate in the Church of Scotland, at the North Church in Kelso. Over the next few years he became widely known for his evangelical writings, published in tracts and devotional books. He joined the Great Disruption in 1843 and he and his church became affiliated with the new Free Church of Scotland, separating from the state religion. He was for several years the joint editor of the Free Church's newspaper The Border Watch.

Like his Irish contemporary, Cecil Frances Alexander, his earliest hymns were written for children, but his themes became much broader. His hymns eventually numbered close to six hundred, and while some critics felt that he wrote "too many," and that some of them were written carelessly and clumsily, about a hundred of them passed into common use across many denominations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Come, mighty Spirit, penetrate
This heart and soul of mine;
And my whole being with your grace
Infuse, O Life divine.

As this clear air surrounds the earth,
Your grace around me roll;
As the bright light pervades the air,
So pierce and fill my soul.

As from these clouds drops down in love
The precious summer rain,
So from yourself pour down the flood
That freshens all again.

Thus life within our weary hearts
Shall make its glad abode;
And we shall shine in beauteous light,
Filled with the light of God.

Horatius Bonar, 1861; alt.
John Spencer Camp, 1905

Four Years Ago: Horatius Bonar

Six Years Ago: Horatius Bonar

Seven Years Ago: Horatius Bonar

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Mother's Expectation

The story of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), with the surprising news that the angel Gabriel gives to Mary, is read in many churches today.  There are other parts of Mary's story that are also appropriate for Advent, such as her visit to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-46) which includes the mighty Magnificat, Mary's song of revolution.

Today's hymn, written in the middle of the nineteenth century, goes to a place you might not expect from a Victorian writer: the course of Mary's pregnancy from the Annunciation ('the angel's salutation') to her travels to her cousin ('o'er the mountains of Judea') and finally toward Bethlehem as nine months pass. The baby is called a 'burden' which may bring to mind a chorus from Handel's Messiah about easy yokes and light burdens, but it is also a hard truth not always mentioned in Mary's story: the Incarnation came about through difficult reality for the two earthly parents-to-be, and the good news of it must have seemed far away at times, for all that the author here tries to make it more palatable for us. The meek and mild Mary sometimes portrayed in hymns and stories actually had to be a pretty tough and resourceful young woman to make it all the way to Bethlehem.

Frederick William Faber was a priest in the Church of England who converted to Roman Catholicism only nine years after his ordination. His hymnwriting 'crossed the Tiber' as well, as demonstrated in this hymn, titled "Our Lady's Expectation."

Like the dawning of the morning
On the mountains' golden heights,
Like the breaking of the moonbeams 
On the gloom of cloudy nights;
Like the tidings told by angels,
Far and wide across the earth,
Is the Mother's expectation
Of Messiah's speedy birth.

You were happy, blessed Mother,
With the very bliss of heav'n,
Since the angel's salutation
In your list'ning ear was giv'n.
Since the 'Ave' of that midnight,
When you were anointed Queen,
Like a river overflowing
Has the grace within you been.

O'er the mountains of Judea,
Like the chariot of the Lord,
You were lifted in your spirit
By the uncreated Word;
Gifts and graces flowed upon you
In a sweet celestial strife
And the growing of this baby
Was the lightening of your life.

Oh the feeling of this burden,
It was touch and taste and sight;
It was newer still and newer,
All those nine months, day and night.
Every moment did that burden
Press upon you with new grace;
Happy Mother! You are longing
To behold the Savior’s face!

Frederick William Faber, 1854; alt.
William Penfro Rowlands, 1905

Father Faber's full text runs to eight stanzas, ending with that baby's birth, but since we are still in Advent for another week it seems appropriate to stop here, with Mary's (and our) hope and expectation.

More Hymns for the Fourth Sunday of Advent:

Eight (Liturgical) Years Ago: Great Gabriel sped on wings of light

Seven (Liturgical) Years Ago: Away! with loyal hearts and true

Four (Liturgical) Years Ago: Praise we the Lord this day

Two (Liturgical) Years Ago: Today the angel comes, the same

One (Liturgical) Year Ago: Shall we not love thee, Mother dear


Eight (Calendar) Years Ago: Phoebe Worrall Palmer

Six (Calendar) Years Ago: Charles Wesley

Four (Calendar) Years Ago: Charles Wesley

One (Calendar) Year Ago: Charles Wesley

Saturday, December 17, 2016

John Greenleaf Whittier

The Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was born today in Massachusetts, where he spent most of his life. Both his birthplace in Haverhill and the home where he lived for nearly sixty years in nearby Amesbury are preserved as historical sites (an honor not bestowed on most hymnwriters). Of course, few of his poems were intended as hymns, but hymnal editors from his own time to the present have captured stanzas from his poetry, assembling them into texts for congregational singing.

As recounted here before, his literary career was encouraged by William Lloyd Garrison, who published many of his early poems and the two men bonded over their commitment to the abolitionist cause. In 1833 Whittier was a delegate to the first convention of the American Anti-Slavery Society, where he signed its declaration (written by Garrison), an act that he was to recall as one of the most significant events of his life. He later served as the Society's secretary, and over the next few years he traveled throughout the northern states lecturing against slavery. Confrontations with proponents of slavery were many, and some were violent.  In 1838 he moved to Philadelphia to edit the Pennsylvania Freeman, a prominent abolitionist newspaper. The paper moved its offices to Pennsylvania Hall, a newly built meeting place for abolitionist organizations, but the building was burned in a riot only three days after its grand opening.

By 1839 the abolitionist cause was beginning to fracture over various disagreements. Whittier broke with Garrison, who insisted that the country would only change by a great tide of moral persuasion. Whittier believed that the cause had to be politically viable for any change to happen, and he joined the Liberty Party in 1840. He continued to write poetry for the anti-slavery cause, both before and after emancipation finally occurred, though most of his later verse (from which the hymns are primarily taken) was written on other themes.

Whittier's Quakerism was more than a religious feeling; he dressed in traditional Quaker garb and conversed in the 'simple speech' of the Quakers (though it may sound quite 'formal' to us today). It's probably natural that he would have disliked the boisterous revival services and camp meetings held by the evangelical preachers of his day, and his most well-known hymn appears to be a reaction against such worship. Today's hymn, like his others, is taken from a longer poem, The Brewing of Soma (first published in the Atlantic Monthly in April 1872), which begins with a description of the rites of early Hindu worship, where the priests concoct a formula which produces 'sacred madness' and 'a storm of drunken joy.'  He goes on to link this practice to various other sects and cultures through history before bringing it home to his readers:

And yet the past comes round again,
And new doth old fulfil;
In sensual transports wild as vain
We brew in many a Christian fane
The heathern Soma still!

The final six stanzas of the poem are still often sung today, giving us a model for worship that Whittier preferred, incorporating the Quaker values of silence, reverence, and peace.

Dear God, the Source of humankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of thy call,
As noiseless let thy blessing fall
As fell thy manna down.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

John Greenleaf Whittier, 1872; alt.
Tune: REST (Maker) (
Frederick C. Maker, 1887

It should probably be remarked that some of the denominations that Whittier was chastising would eventually include this hymn in their own worship without any compunction.  The preceding stanzas are all but unknown today. Some contemporary commentary also believes this hymn to be relevant in our time because of some connection to 'drug culture,' but again, almost anyone singing this hymn today knows nothing about its origins.

The original first line of the hymn, Dear Lord and Father of mankind, has been altered in a few different ways in recent years. The two most popular seem to be Dear God, embracing humankind, and Dear Lord, who loves all humankind, but the line above predates those, taken from the hymnal project I worked on from 1989-1992.

Composer Frederick C. Maker wrote this tune specifically for this text when it appeared in the Congregational Church Hymnal (1887). Though that book was published in London for use in the UK, REST is now considered to be the American tune, and English hymnals prefer REPTON by C.H.H. Parry (though the final two lines in each stanza have to be repeated unnecessarily).

Eight Years Ago: John Greenleaf Whittier

Six Years Ago: John Greenleaf Whittier

One Year Ago: John Greenleaf Whittier

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Frances Ridley Havergal

Today is the 180th birthday of hymnwriter and composer Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879).  She was the daughter of William Henry Havergal, a menber of the clergy of the Church of England, who also wrote and composed hymns. Her middle name was given in honor of Bishop Nicholas Ridley (c.1500-1555), an English Protestant martyr who was executed for heresy after the Roman Catholic Mary Tudor became queen (Ridley had supported the brief accession of Lady Jane Grey).

Young Frances was quite a prodigy; her father nicknamed her 'Little Quicksilver.' She began to read at age three, and to memorize the Bible at age four. She learned at least seven languages, including Greek and Hebrew so that she could further her Biblical studies.  At seven, she began to write poetry. She also memorized much piano music of the great composers of her day, sang, and composed music of her own.

As an adult, she was very involved with mission work and other social causes, including temperance and the YWCA.  She founded the Flannel Petticoat Society, which provided clothing to poor children.

Many of her early hymns were first published in pamphlet form, and the first collection of her writings was not published until 1869, only ten years before her death at 46. Over the next few years she became well known for her hymn texts and other religious poetry and prose. One of her famous correspondents was the American Fanny Crosby, and the two sometimes exchanged poems. The Seeing Heart (1872) is a long poem to Crosby by Havergal, from which the phrase "Her heart can see" was taken for the title of a modern biography of Crosby. The poem ends with the following stanza:

Singing for Jesus! Telling his love
All the way to our home above,
Where the severing sea, with its restless tide
Never shall hinder and never divide.
Sister, what shall our meeting soon be
When our hearts shall sing and our eyes shall see?

Most of Havergal's hymn texts and poetry express her deep relationship with Jesus, rarely dealing with the wider variety of themes that many Victorian hymnwriters explored.  Though I have only marked her birthday twice, several more of her texts have appeared here (click her tag below) and a few of her tunes as well. This text was published in Loyal Responses (1878) though it may have been released earlier in a pamphlet.

Christ is with us! He has said it,
In his truth and tender grace;
Sealed the promise, softly spoken,
With how many a mighty token,
Of his love and faithfulness.

Christ is with us! in our living,
Shielding us from fear of ill;
All our burdens kindly bearing,
For our loved ones gently caring,
Guarding, keeping, blessing still.

Christ is with us! with us always,
All the nights and all the days;
Never failing, never frowning,
With his loving-kindness crowning,
Tuning all our lives to praise.

Christ is with us! Our own Savior,
Leading, loving to the end;
Bright'ning joy and light'ning sorrow,
All today, yet more tomorrow,
Lamb of God, our Guide and Friend.

Frances Ridley Havergal, 1878; alt.
Tune: WINDERMERE (Maker) (
Frederick C. Maker, 19th cent.

The meter of this text is a bit unusual and there are not many tunes that fit it - WINDERMERE, by Frederick Maker (composer of ST. CHRISTOPHER) is a compromise.  The score may help you match the text with the words.

Havergal died of peritonitis on June 3, 1879. She had been staying for several months with her sister Maria, who wrote an account of the poet's decline which was published as The Last Week (1879). Family members were with her in her last days, and they sang together several times. Just before she died she sang her own tune, HERMAS, one last time, to the following words by Mary J. Walker:

Jesus, I will trust thee, 
Trust thee with my soul;
Guilty, lost, and helpless,
Thou canst make me whole.
There is none in heaven
Or on earth like thee:
Thou hast died for sinners—
Therefore, Lord for me.

Eight Years Ago: Frances Ridley Havergal

Seven Years Ago: Frances Ridley Havergal