Feast of Allen William Chatfield (January 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of The Church of England

Image in the Public Domain

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ALLEN WILLIAM CHATFIELD (OCTOBER 2, 1808-JANUARY 10, 1896)

Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Translator

Allen William Chatfield, the son of an Anglican priest, was born at Chatteris, England.  He studied at the Charterhouse, Surrey, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating with honors from Trinity College in 1831.  Chatfield, ordained a priest in 1832, served at Stotfold (1833-1847) and Much Marcle (from 1848), dying at the latter location.

The priest was a skilled translator.  He translated parts of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer into Greek.  James Moffatt, in his companion volume to the 1927 Scottish Presbyterian Hymnary, described this effort as Chatfield’s “most notable work.”  Chatfield also published a volume, Hymns of the Earliest Christian Poets, Bishops and Others, Translated into English Verse (1876).  Hymn sites I have consulted have listed eight hymns he translated and one he wrote.

The Chatfield hymn found most often in hymnals these days is “Lord Jesus, Think on Me.”  The lyrics follow:

Lord Jesus, think on me,

And purge away my sin;

From earth-born passions set me free,

And make me pure within.

Lord Jesus, think on me,

With care and woe opprest;

Let me thy loving servant be,

And taste thy promised rest.

Lord Jesus, think on me,

Nor let me go astray;

Through darkness and perplexity

Paint thou the heavenly way.

Lord Jesus, think on me,

That, when the flood is past,

I may eternal brightness see,

And share thy joy at last.

The original words were those of Synesius of Cyrene (circa 375-circa 414), a north African bishop.

I am grateful for people, such as Allen William Chatfield, who devoted their lives to God and literary pursuits which continue to ennoble faithful Christians.  We humans have the potential to engage in much creative work and play.  And I, as a student of history, like those who have delved into the treasure house of ancient texts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 26, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BERCHMANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN

THE FEAST OF ISAAC WATTS, HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Allen William Chatfield.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder, that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of your new creation

in Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.  

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Revised on November 21, 2016

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