Feast of Edwin Pond Parker (May 28)   1 comment

parker_ep

Above:  Edwin Pond Parker

Image Source = HymnTime

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EDWIN POND PARKER (JANUARY 13, 1836-MAY 28, 1920)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer

The Reverend Edwin Pond Parker was a talented and remarkable man.  He left a lasting legacy in the lives of many of his parishioners, all of whom have died.  But, to the rest of us born in more recent years, his legacy is one of hymns.

Parker, born in Castine, Maine, graduated from Bowdoin College then Bangor Theological Seminary.  Then he, ordained a Congregationalist minister, began his remarkable career.  From 1860 to 1912 he was pastor of the Second Church of Christ (South Church), Hartford, Connecticut, whose history he wrote.  He was, for some of that time, also the chaplain to the state Senate.  Seldom does anyone have so long a pastoral tenure.  Parker’s term started with some controversy, which died down, thus enabling him to do the good work of a dutiful pastor for so long.

And our saint enriched the life of the larger church via his work in hymnody.  He edited hymnals:

  1. Song Flowers for the Sunday School (1866);
  2. Book of Praise (1868);
  3. Sunday School Songs (1869);
  4. The Christian Hymnal (1877);
  5. Sunday School Hymnal (1880); and
  6. The Christian Hymnal (1889).

Parker also wrote at least eight hymns and composed hymn tunes.  I have posted the text of one of his hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  Here is another hymn, from 1888:

Master, no offering,

Costly and sweet,

May we, like Magdalene,

Lay at Thy feet;

Yet may love’s incense rise,

Sweeter than sacrifice,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

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Daily our lives would show

Weakness made strong,

Toil some and gloomy ways

Brightened with song;

Some deeds of kindness done,

Some souls by patience won,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

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Some word of hope for hearts

Burdened with fears,

Some balm of peace for eyes

Blinded with tears,

Some dews of mercy shed.

Some wayward footsteps led,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

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Thus in Thy service, Lord,

Till eventide

Closes the day of life,

May we abide!

And when earth’s labors cease,

Bid us depart in peace,

Dear Lord, to Thee,

Dear Lord, to Thee.

My only (very mild) criticism of the generally excellent text is the use of the word “Magdalene.”  The author referred to Luke 7:36-50, which does not identify the woman.  We do read the name of Mary Magdalene in Luke 8:2, but as a follower of Jesus.  And, that text tells us, seven demons had gone out from her.  Given the Hellenistic understanding of demonic possession as being responsible for a host of ailments from mental illness to epilepsy, I wonder what “seven demons” might mean in modern diagnosis.  The erroneous tradition of identifying St. Mary Magdalene as ever having been a prostitute has besmirched her reputation in Western Christianity.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church, however, she occupies her rightful place as “Equal to the Apostles.”

Parker died a few months after celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of assuming pastoral duties in Hartford, Connecticut.

I highlight the work of a pastor, which many people do not notice and to which a host of individuals do not give sufficient praise.  It is challenging and frequently thankless work, labor which many lay people, perhaps out of ignorance, are quick to criticize.  Our saint labored in one congregation for fifty-two years, dealing with a variety of personalities.  I can only imagine what that must have been like.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 29, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL MANZ, DEAN OF LUTHERAN CHURCH MUSIC

THE FEAST OF CLARENCE JORDAN, RENEWER OF SOCIETY

THE FEAST OF JAMES HANNINGTON AND HIS COMPANIONS, ANGLICAN MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF JOHN BUCKMAN WALTHOUR, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Edwin Pond Parker

to be a pastor in your Church and to feed your flock.

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household and true servants

of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 719

One response to “Feast of Edwin Pond Parker (May 28)

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  1. Pingback: Lord, As We Thy Name Profess | GATHERED PRAYERS

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