Feast of Matthew Bridges (July 14)   2 comments

Above:  The Vatican Flag

Image in the Public Domain

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MATTHEW BRIDGES (JULY 14, 1800-OCTOBER 6, 1894)

Hymn Writer

Matthew Bridges (1800-1824), born in Maldon, Essex, England, and raised in The Church of England, changed greatly from his youth to his later years.  He, a student of history, had, at age twenty-eight, published The Roman Empire Under Constantine the Great, a book meant to undermine certain historical claims of the Roman Catholic Church.  Yet, twenty years later, under the influence of the Oxford Movement, Bridges converted to Roman Catholicism.  He spent much of his life in the Canadian province of Quebec yet spent the final chapter of his life in a villa on the grounds of the Convent of the Assumption, Sidmouth, Devon, England.

A partial list of our saint’s published works follows:

  1. The Testimony of Profane Antiquity to the Account Given by Moses of Paradise and the Fall of Man (1825);
  2. The Roman Empire Under Constantine the Great (1828);
  3. Babbicombe, or Visions of Memory, and Other Poems (1842);
  4. Hymns of the Heart (1847 and 1851);
  5. The Passion of Jesus (1852); and
  6. A Popular Modern History (1855).

Bridges wrote a variety of hymns, the most famous of which is probably “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”  His original words, being too Roman Catholic for some tastes, prompted Godfrey Thring‘s rewrite in 1874.  Standard practice in hymnals has been to consolidate verses (Bridges and/or Thring) and to mix Bridges verses with Thring verses, thereby creating a great number of versions of the hymn.  Yet the original words endure, even if they have become obscure in many church circles.

Ironically, the introduction of Matthew Bridges’s hymns to many American churches came via Congregationalist minister Henry Ward Beecher, who edited the Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes for the Use of Christian Congregations (1855).  In the Introduction to that landmark hymnal Beecher noted the inclusion of many hymns of the Roman Catholic Church, which he called

that Church of Error.

–page v, at the top

Bridges, of course, had a different opinion by that time.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES GORE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF OXFORD

THE FEAST OF JESSIE BARNETT, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Matthew Bridges and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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2 responses to “Feast of Matthew Bridges (July 14)

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  1. Pingback: Matthew Bridges | GATHERED PRAYERS

  2. Pingback: Crown Him With Many Crowns | GATHERED PRAYERS

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