Feast of John Ernest Bode (October 6)   Leave a comment

Christ Church College, Oxford

Above:  Christ Church College, Oxford, England, United Kingdom, 1890-1900

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-08765

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JOHN ERNEST BODE (FEBRUARY 13, 1816-OCTOBER 6, 1874)

Anglican Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer

Sometimes, when I read about a hymn writer, I find that someone who wrote a host of hymns has become known for just one.  Such is the case with regard to John Ernest Bode.

Our saint, son of William Bode, head of the British Post Office, attended school at Eton, Charterhouse, and Christ Church College, Oxford (B.A., 1837; M.A., 1840).  He, a tutor at Christ Church College for six years–even the first winner of the Hertford Scholarship (1835), took Anglican Holy Orders.  In 1841 Bode became the Rector of Westwell, Oxfordshire.  Six years later he transferred to become the Rector of Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Bode, an accomplished poet, came within one vote of winning the election for Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1857.  He published volumes of his work, preserving it for posterity:

  1. Ballads from Herodotus (1853);
  2. Short Occasional Poems (1858); and
  3. Hymns from the Gospel for the Day, for Each Sunday and the Festivals of Our Lord (1860).

Our saint wrote many hymns, even publishing an original hymn for each Sunday and festival of Christ–sometimes two hymns for the same occasion.  Yet the one hymn he wrote which appears most often in English-language hymnals is “O Jesus, I Have Promised” (1866), which he composed for the confirmation of his daughter and two sons.  It is a fine text, a statement applicable to much else he wrote.  For example, he wrote the following hymn for the Feast of the Ascension and published it in 1860:

With wistful heart and fixed eye

They gaz’d on heaven’s high dome,

As if to trace in yonder sky

Their Lord’s eternal home.

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When lo! before their trembling sight

Two angel forms appear’d,

Clad in bright robes of spotless white,

And thus their hearts they cheer’d;–

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“Ye men of Galilee,” they said,

“Why stand ye gazing here?

Doubt not, nor be your hearts dismay’d,

Your Lord shall reappear.

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“Though parted from His faithful train,

He sits in heaven sublime,

Yet shall He thence descend again

In God’s appointed time.

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“E’en as ye saw Him now ascend,

With clouds around Him pour’d,

The earth shall quake, the heavens shall bend,

And ye shall see your Lord.

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“Then onward whither He has sent,

Nor longer doubting stay!”

They heard the word, believ’d, and went

Rejoicing on their way!

Bode died in 1874, aged fifty-five years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 17, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BENNETT J. SIMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF COMPIEGNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT NERSES LAMPRONATS, ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF TARSUS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WHITE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

John Ernest Bode 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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