Saturday, April 20, 2019

Gleams of Eternity Appear

As another Holy Week comes to a close...

Sunset to sunrise changes now,
For God has made the world anew;
On the Redeemer's thorn-crowned brow,
The wonders of that world we view.

E'en though the sun withholds its light
Lo! a more heav'nly lamp shines here,
And from the cross, on Calvary's height,
Gleams of eternity appear.

Here in o'erwhelming final strife
The Lord of Life has victory,
And sin is slain, and death brings life,
And earth inherits heaven's key.

Clement of Alexandria, 3rd cent.;
para. Howard Chandler Robbins, 20th. cent.; alt.
Tune: KEDRON (L.M.)
attrib. Elkanah Kelsay Dare, 19th cent.

Saint Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215) was originally Titus Flavius Clemens, a Greek theologian and a convert to Christianity who became the intellectual leader of the Christian community in Alexandria. His sainthood was revoked by the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, but he remains revered in Anglicanism, as well as the Coptic and Ethiopian branches of Christianity.

Howard Chandler Robbins (1876-1952) was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 1904 and served parishes in New York and New Jersey before serving as dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan from 1917-1929. Following that position, he became a professor at the (Episcopal) General Theological Seminary. He was a member and was eventually made a Fellow of the Hymn Society of America, as well as a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. He served on the committee that produced the Episcopal Hymnal 1916, and several of his hymns (including today's paraphrase) appear in the subsequent Hymnal 1940. My own particular favorite of his hymns is Put forth, O God, thy Spirit's might, for which he also composed the tune CHELSEA SQUARE, one of the finest tunes of the twentieth-century, in my opinion.

One of the earliest published American composers, Elkanah Kelsay Dare (1782-1826), was also a Presbyterian minister who was pastor of the Union Presbyterian Church in Colerain Township (now Kirkwood), Pennsylvania (his middle name is sometimes given as Kelsey). His ten hymn tunes appeared in the Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second (1813) edited by John Wyeth.  (The most well-known tune that also appeared in that volume is NETTLETON, which everyone here has undoubtedly sung.)

P.S. - While putting this entry together, it occurred to me that the tune ST. CLEMENT is also a Long Meter tune, so I tried to match this text with that Anglican tune (suggestive of the original author) but sadly the word stresses don't line up correctly. And anyway, it appears that KEDRON is the only tune used for this text in the thirteen hymnals where it appears, as documented at, so, OK.

Eleven (Liturgical) Years Ago: O sorrow deep

Ten (Liturgical) Years Ago: All the sacrifice is ended

(Liturgical) Years Ago: When Jesus was convicted

Three (Liturgical) Years Ago: Resting from his work today

No comments: