Above: Ruins of Sheffield Manor, 1819
Image in the Public Domain
THOMAS COTTERILL (DECEMBER 4, 1779-DECEMBER 29, 1823)
English Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist
Thomas Cotterill was a pioneer in the field of English hymnody.
The saint, born at Cannock, Staffordshire, England, on December 4, 1779, was a son of a wool-stapler. Cotterill attended the Free School, Birmingham, and St. John’s College, Cambridge, before taking Anglican Holy Orders in 1803. He served as Curate of Tutbury (1803-1808), Incumbent of Lane End, Staffordshire (1808-1817), and Perpetual Curate of St. Paul’s, Sheffield (1817-1823).
Cotterill wrote hymns and worked on hymnals. In 1805 he collaborated with Jonathan Stubbs on the First Edition of A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Use. The congregational singing of metrical psalms was normative in The Church of England in the early 1800s. Support for the congregational singing of hymns in the Established Church was increasing, but opposition to this change remained strong. In 1819 Cotterill and his collaborator, James Montgomery (1771-1854), published the Eighth Edition of A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Use in 1819. Their volume contained 150 psalms and 367 hymns, 25 of which Cotterill had written and 50 of which Montgomery had composed. The new hymnal proved so controversial that a faction of Cotterill’s church sued him in a diocesan court. Archbishop of York Edward Venables-Vernon-Harcourt settled the matter. Cotterill withdrew the Eighth Edition then worked on a replacement, which the Archbishop of York supervised and financed. The Ninth Edition (1820), dedicated to the archbishop, contained 150 psalms and 146 hymns. It circulated with official support, but the Eighth Edition (1819) became one of the most influential hymnals in the English-speaking world and in The Church of England.
Cotterill died at Sheffield on December 29, 1823. His friend and collaborator, James Montgomery, wrote of our saint that he had
the piety of a saint, the tastes of a scholar, the aspect and demeanor of an unaffected Christian gentleman.
Among our saint’s texts was “In Memory of the Saviour’s Love” (1805), a communion hymn:
In memory of the Saviour’s love,
We keep the sacred feast,
Where every humble, contrite heart
Is made a welcome guest.
One fold, one faith, one hope, one Lord,
One God alone we know;
As brethren all, let every heart
With kind affection glow.
By faith we take the bread of life
With which our souls are fed,
The cup in token of his blood
That was for sinners shed.
In faith and memory thus we sing
The wonders of his love,
And thus anticipate by faith
The heavenly feast above.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 20, 2015 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAMUEL HANSON COX, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND ABOLITIONIST; AND HIS SON, ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS
THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGISUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT
THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN
THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS
Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,
thank you for those (especially Thomas Cotterill)
who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.
May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1 Chronicles 25:1-8
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR
THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN