Feast of William Pierson Merrill (June 19)   1 comment

GEO_Globe

Above:  A Globe

Image Source = Christian Fischer

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WILLIAM PIERSON MERRILL (JANUARY 10, 1867-JUNE 19, 1954)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Social Reformer, and Hymn Writer

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Doctor Merrill, an author of repute, an outstanding preacher, an authority on hymns and tunes, has for nearly a half century battled for righteous causes in America’s three largest cities.

–Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody:  A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal, 2d. ed. (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937, pages 304-305)

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Many readers of this post might not know the name “William Pierson Merrill” yet might be quite familiar with his great hymn, “Rise Up, O Men of God.”

Rise up, O men of God!

Have done with lesser things;

Give heart and soul and mind and strength

To serve the King of kings.

—–

Rise up, O men of God!

His Kingdom tarries long;

Bring in the day of brotherhood,

And end the night of wrong.

—–

Rise up, O men of God!

The Church for you doth wait,

Her strength unequal to her task;

Rise up and make her great.

—–

Lift high the Cross of Christ!

Tread where His feet have trod;

As brothers of the Son of Man

Rise up, O men of God!

I wonder how many people who have sung that hymn would find Merrill’s theology horrifying or at least objectionable.  I, of course, consider it to be neither.

William Pierson Merrill (1867-1954) graduated from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey, then from Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York.  The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. ordained him in 1890.  He served at the following churches:

  1. Trinity Presbyterian Church, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1890-1895);
  2. Sixth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois (1895-1911); and
  3. Brick Presbyterian Church, New York, New York (1911-1938).  From there he retired.

Update on the churches:

  1. Trinity Presbyterian Church has become The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill by means of a reunion of Trinity with its parent congregation, First Presbyterian Church.
  2. Sixth Presbyterian Church (not to be confused with the former Sixth United Presbyterian Church) has ceased to exist, as has its building.
  3. Brick Presbyterian Church has moved from the location it occupied when Merrill was pastor.

Merrill was a peace activist and a biblical scholar.  He published a commentary on Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah in 1927.  And, in 1914, he became the first President of the Church Peace Union, now the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.   Merrill’s liberalism and internationalism were evident in Christian Internationalism (1918) and Liberal Christianity (1925).

Merrill declined the opportunity to become the President of Union Theological Seminary in 1917 yet accepted the position of Moderator of the Presbytery of New York from 1940 to 1942.

William Pierson Merrill spoke out for ethics in public life on the global scale.  Indeed, he chose not to focus on “lesser things,” but to work on bringing in “the day of brotherhood.”  That was a worthy cause, one which continues to be crucial.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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For Further Reading:

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/m/e/merrill_wp.htm

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Merrill%2c%20William%20Pierson%2c%201867-1954

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant William Pierson Merrill,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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