Monday, January 2, 2017

Whose Name Is Called Emmanuel (Day Nine)

For the ninth day of Christmas, we have an Incarnation text that seems almost too poetic to be used as a hymn, but I like it. The poet Dora Greenwell (1821-1888) wrote with "intense religious feeling," and may never have intended for her work to be sung, but hymnal editors find their material where they will. Greenwell's most well-known poem to be used as a hymn is I am not skilled to understand, which is used in many more hymnals from the last fifty years than it was in her own time.  Once one of your poems is taken up in a hymnal, others will usually follow.

And art thou come with us to dwell,
Our Hope, our Guide, our Love, our Word?
And is thy name Emmanuel,
God present with this world restored?

The heart is glad for thee! It knows
None now shall bid it err or mourn;
And o’er its desert breaks the rose
In triumph o’er the grieving thorn.

Thou bringest all again; with thee
Is light, is space, is breadth and room
For each thing fair, beloved, and free
To have its hour of life and bloom.

The world is glad for thee! the heart
Is glad for thee! and all is well,
And fixed and sure, because thou art,
Whose name is called Emmanuel.

Dora Greenwell, 1874
Tune: ST. ALKMUND (L.M.)     
Easy Music for Church Choirs, 1853

Dora Greenwell never felt that her poetry met her own high standards, but this opinion was probably not shared by her literary friends. She greatly admired the work of her friend Christina Rossetti, of whom she wrote:

Thou hast filled me a golden cup
With a drink divine that glows,
With the bloom that is flowing up
From the heart of the folding rose...

Eight Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Seven Years Ago: Lo! how a Rose e'er blooming

Six Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Four Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

One Year Ago: We celebrate the day

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