Above: Milford, Massachusetts, 1888
Image Source = Library of Congress
ALLEN EASTMAN CROSS (DECEMBER 30, 1864-APRIL 23, 1942)
U.S. Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
My grand tour of selected old hymnals brought the name of Allen Eastman Cross to my attention. Our saint, born at Manchester, New Hampshire, on December 30, 1864, attended Phillips Andover Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, before studying at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts (B.A., 1866) and the related theological seminary (B.D, 1891). Cross, ordained a Congregationalist minister in 1892, served as the pastor of the following congregations:
- Cliftondale Congregational Church, Cliftondale, Massachusetts (1892-1896);
- Springfield Park Congregational Church, Springfield, Massachusetts (1896-1901);
- Third Congregational Church (Old South Church), Boston, Massachusetts (1901-1911), as Associate Minister; and
- First Congregational Church, Milford, Massachusetts (1914-1925).
Between his tenures in Boston and Milford Cross traveled the world, visiting missionary outposts of various denominations. Our saint, who received a D.D. degree from Dartmouth College in 1906, retired to Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1925, and started what he called his “ministry of writing.” Two books–Pass on the Torch (1929), a volume of poetry, and Thunder Over Jerusalem (1936)–resulted.
Cross wrote hymns, most of which have fallen out of favor with hymnal committees. That is unfortunate, for much of what has met with the favor of hymnal committees in recent decades has been substandard, often with a few words repeated frequently. The dumbing down of hymnody has been in progress for at least half a century, and the wordy hymns of the Reverend Cross seem not to fit in anymore.
Our saint died at Manchester on April 23, 1942. He was 77 years old.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 30, 2015 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PINCHON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
THE FEAST OF HORATIUS BONAR, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ABOLITIONIST
Dear God of beauty,
you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to
Allen Eastman Cross 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
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