Above: Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy
Image Source = Hymntime.com
GEOFFREY ANKETELL STUDDERT KENNEDY (JUNE 27, 1883-MARCH 8, 1929)
Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
Nobody worries about Christ as long as he can be kept shut up in churches. He is quite safe inside. But there is always trouble if you try and let him out.
–Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (surname = Studdert Kennedy) was a man from and of the Church. He, born on June 27, 1883, was a native of Leeds, England, where his father, William Studdert Kennedy, was an Anglican vicar. Our saint, educated at Leeds Grammar School and at Trinity College, Dublin, took Holy Orders. He served as a priest at, in order, Ripon and Rugby, before becoming the Vicar of St. Paul’s Worcester, in 1914. From 1916 to 1919 Studdert Kennedy was a military chaplain. He placed his life at risk to tend to the material and spiritual needs of soldiers, especially the injured and the dying. For his valor–recklessness, King George V called it–our saint received the Military Cross in 1917. He became known as “Woodbine Willie” for distributing Woodbine cigarettes to soldiers.
After the war Studdert Kennedy, who married Emily Catlow in 1914, became a pacifist and a Christian Socialist. Our saint, the Rector of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, Lombard Street, London, from 1922, went on the lecture circuit for the Industrial Christian Fellowship.
Studdert Kennedy published poems, sermons, essays, and social critiques. His published works included the following:
- The Hardest Part (1918);
- Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1918);
- More Rough Rhymes (1919);
- Lies (1919);
- Democracy and the Dog Collar (1921);
- Food for the Fed Up (1921);
- The Wicked Gate (1923);
- The Word and the Work (1925);
- I Believe: Sermons on the Apostles’ Creed (1928); and
- The Warrior, the Woman, and the Christ (1928).
There was also an undated volume, The Sorrows of God, and Other Poems.
Studdert Kennedy’s hymns included “Not Here for High and Holy Things” and “When Through the Whirl of Wheels.”
When thro’ the whirl of wheels, and engines humming,
Patiently powerful for the sons of men,
Peals like a trumpet promise of his coming,
Who in the clouds is pledged to come again;
When thro’ the night of the furnace fires aflaring,
Shooting out tongues of flame like leaping blood,
Speak to the heart of Love, alive and daring,
Sing of the boundless energy of God;
When in the depths of the patient miner striving,
Feels in his arms the vigor of the Lord,
Strikes for a kingdom and his King’s arriving,
Holding his pick more splendid than the sword;
When on the sweat of labor and its sorrow,
Toiling in the twilight flickering and dim,
Flames out sunshine of the great tomorrow,
When all the world looks up because of him–
Then will he come with meekness for his glory,
God in a workman’s jacket as before,
Living again in th’eternal gospel story,
Sweeping the shavings from his workshop floor.
Studdert Kennedy died at Liverpool, England, on March 8, 1929, while on the lecture circuit for the Industrial Christian Fellowship. He was 45 years old.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 13, 2017 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS, “ATHANASIUS OF THE WEST,” AND HYMN WRITER; MENTOR OF SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TOURS
THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN KEIMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF SAINT KENTIGERN, A.K.A. MUNGO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GLASGOW
THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME
Glorious God, we give thanks not merely for high and holy things,
but for the common things of earth which you have created:
Wake us to love and work, that Jesus, the Lord of life,
may set our hearts ablaze and that we, like Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy,
may recognize you in your people and in your creation,
serving the holy and undivided Trinity;
who lives and reigns throughout all ages and ages. Amen.
2 Samuel 22:1-7 (8-16) 17-19
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
—Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 265