Feast of Jane Cross Bell Simpson (June 17)   1 comment

Flag of Scotland

Above:  The Flag of Scotland

Image in the Public Domain

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JANE CROSS BELL SIMPSON (NOVEMBER 21, 1811-JUNE 17, 1886)

Scottish Presbyterian Poet and Hymn Writer

Facts about the life of Jane Cross Bell Simpson are scarce.  She seems to have been like most holy people in that regard, for she kept her personal life private.

Our saint was the daughter of James Bell, an attorney in Glasgow, Scotland.  She, born on November 21, 1811, had an older brother, Henry Glassford Bell (1803-1874), an attorney, poet, historian, magazine editor, and defender of the late Mary, Queen of Scots.  [Aside:  One can find some of his books at archive.com.]  Henry, as editor of The Edinburgh Literary Journal, published texts by his sister, who wrote as “Gertrude.”  Our saint also contributed to The Scottish Christian Herald, a magazine of The Church of Scotland.  At least two books edited by other people contained some her work.  These were:

  • The Seaman’s Devotional Assistant (1830), and
  • Lyra Britannica:  A Collection of British Hymns; Printed from the Genuine Texts; with Biographical Sketches of the Hymn Writers (first edition, 1867; second edition, 1868).

She also published books:

  • The Piety of Daily Life (1836),
  • April Hours (1838),
  • Women’s History (1848),
  • The Consumptive (1850),
  • Linda, or Beauty and Genius (1859),
  • Picture Poems (1879), and
  • Linda, and Other Poems (1879).

Our saint, who married cousin J. Bell Simpson of Glasgow in 1837, died at Aberdeen, Scotland, on June 17, 1886.

I have added one of Simpson’s texts, “Star of Peace to Wanderers Weary” (1830), to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  I have also located two other notable hymns, the first of which offers advice regarding prayer:

Go when the morning shineth,

Go when the noon is bright;

Go when the eve declineth,

Go in the hush of night;

Go with pure mind and feeling,

Fling earthly thought away,

And, in thy chamber kneeling,

Do thou in secret pray.

+++++

Remember all who love thee,

All who are loved by thee;

Pray, too, for those that hate thee,

If any such there be.

Then for thyself, in meekness,

A blessing humbly claim;

And link, with each petition,

The great Redeemer’s name.

+++++

Or if ’tis e’er denied thee

In solitude to pray,

Should holy thoughts come o’er thee,

When friends are round thy way;

Even then the silent breathing

Of thy spirit raised above,

May reach His throne of glory,

Who is mercy, truth, and love!

+++++

O! not a joy of blessing

With this can we compare,

The power that He hath given us

To pour our hearts in prayer!

Whene’er thou pin’st in sadness,

Before His footstool fall,

And remember, in thy gladness,

His grace who gave thee all.

Another text meditates on the death of children:

I had a lesson to teach them,

The children that God had given,

From a Book most high and holy,

Whose theme is the love of heaven.

+++++

But some of these baby-blossoms

Were laid by the reaper low,

Ere yet they could spell the lettres

I wish’d them so much to know.

+++++

And one, on whose soul had fallen

The lesson with deepest power,

Went home to the sainted glory

In the dawn of his manhood’s hour.

+++++

Ah! then, as the waves of sorrow

Went over my drooping head,

My pupils became my teachers,

The living was taught by the dead!

+++++

And the more their memory held me,

The children I ne’er could see;

The more we rehearsed that lesson

The children yet left with me.

+++++

And still, when the Book is opened

Where wisdom and peace are found,

We fancy our loved ones bending

To meet us on holy ground.

+++++

And the lesson so pure and tender,

We study with silent prayer,

Sinks down to our inmost spirits,

With these angels hovering there!

+++++

And we long to fold our pinions,

By sin and by sorrow press’d,

‘Neath the tree by the crystal river,

The city of endless rest.

+++++

Till then, with a real untiring,

We’ll con the lesson of love;

The children on earth yet dwelling,

And the children moored above.

The decline in the frequency of inclusion of texts by Simpson in hymnals since the early 1900s is quite unfortunate, given the high quality of her writing and the relatively poor quality of many recent texts hymnal committees have chosen to include in lieu of other options.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 5, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SAINT OF SAINT AVITUS OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDWARD HAYES PLUMPTRE, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF JAPAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILEAS AND PHILOROMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Jane Cross Bell Simpson 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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One response to “Feast of Jane Cross Bell Simpson (June 17)

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  1. Pingback: Star of Peace to Wanderers Weary | GATHERED PRAYERS

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