Feast of Thomas Toke Lynch (May 9)   Leave a comment

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THOMAS TOKE LYNCH (JULY 5, 1818-MAY 9, 1871)

English Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

Thomas Toke Lynch (1818-1871), son of a doctor, entered the Congregationalist ministry.  An early pastorate, Highgate Independent Church, London (1847-1849), was a faltering assembly.  Lynch resigned from it then transferred to Mortimer Street Church (1849-1852) in the city.  That congregation relocated to Grafton Street; Lynch followed.  He resigned in 1856 due to ill health.

In 1855, 1856, and 1868, Lynch published editions of The Rivulet:  Hymns for Heart and Voice, so titled because, he wrote,

Christian poetry is indeed a river of the water of life, and to this river my rivulet brings its contribution.

Lynch intended for the contents of his volume for

stimulus and solace or to to sing in family and social communion.

He did not intend the controversy it caused in much of English Nonconformist Christianity.  The illustrious Thomas Binney defended Lynch, but Charles Spurgeon criticized Lynch’s alleged “negative theology” and “no-doctrine scheme.”  Lynch, a sensitive soul, replied,

We must conquer our foes by suffering them to crucify us, rather than by threatening them with crucifixion.

The controversy did disturb Lynch’s sensitive body and mind, undermining his already fragile health and hastening his death.

I have read excerpts from The Rivulet.  My opinion based on them is that Binney was correct.  Consider the following text from that volume, O reader:

Gracious Spirit, dwell with me!

I myself would gracious be;

And, with words that help and heal,

Would Thy life in mine reveal;

And, with actions bold and meek,

Would for Christ, my Saviour, speak.

—–

Truthful Spirit, dwell with me!

I myself would truthful be;

And, with wisdom kind and clear,

Let Thy life in mine appear;

And, with actions brotherly,

Speak my Lord’s sincerity.

—–

Tender Spirit, dwell with me!

I myself would tender be;

Shut my heart up like a flower

In temptation’s darksome hour;

Open it when shines the sun,

And His love by fragrance own.

—–

Holy Spirit, dwell with me!

I myself would holy be;

Separate from sin, I would

Choose and cherish all things good,

And whatever I can be

Give to Him who gave me Thee.

Improved health permitted Lynch to resume this ministry with his old congregation, relocated to Gower Street, London, in 1860, and to remain with it when the assembly moved again, becoming Mornington Church.  He died in that post.  His last words were,

Now I am going to begin to live.

James Moffatt wrote of Lynch:

His personal appearance was peculiar, and his preaching was far from popular, but he gathered round him by the individuality, freshness and spirituality of his pulpit work a congregation of thoughtful and devoted people.

Handbook to the Church Hymnary (Oxford University Press, 1927), page 409

I find myself drawn to the life Thomas Toke Lynch because of (A) his sensitive spirit and (B) the harsh criticism he endured.  Some people have said that I do not have “a mean bone” in my body.  This is true.  It was also true of Lynch.  I wish that I could say the same accurately about Charles Spurgeon.

I do draw a lesson from the Rivulet controversy:  We need to choose our words and tones of voice carefully, for we ought to be mindful of the impact we have on others.  Each of us should strive, as Lynch did, to live up the following words he wrote:

I myself would gracious be;

And, with words that help and heal,

Would Thy life in mine reveal;

And, with actions bold and meek,

Would for Christ, my Saviour, speak.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, HYMN WRITER AND ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CUTHBERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LINDISFARNE

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For Further Reading:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Lynch%2c%20Thomas%20T%2e%20%28Thomas%20Toke%29%2c%201818-1871

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Thomas Toke Lynch

and all who with words have filled us with desire and love for you,

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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