Feast of Horatius Bonar (July 31)   1 comment

Above:  Horatius Bonar

Image in the Public Domain

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HORATIUS BONAR (DECEMBER 19, 1808-JULY 31, 1889)

Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

Horatius Bonar was the greatest Scottish hymn writer.  He wrote them quickly, with more attention to theology than to literary style.  By the time Bonar died the tally of his hymns exceeded 600.

Bonar spent much of his life in Edinburgh.  He, born there on December 19, 1808, was son of Marjory Pyott Maitland and James Bonar, the Solicitor of Excise for Scotland.  Our saint’s mentor was Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), the great Scottish Presbyterian divine.  Chalmers educated Bonar at the University of Edinburgh.  Bonar, ordained into The Church of Scotland in 1838, became the minister of North Parish.  (He had previously been an assistant at Leith.)  Bonar did not remain at North Parish for long, though.  In 1843 the Great Disruption divided The Church of Scotland, and Bonar followed Chalmers into the new Free Church of Scotland.

1843 was also the year our saint married Jane Catherine Lundie (1821-1884).  Jane, daughter of a Presbyterian minister, sister of another Presbyterian minister, and sister of a Presbyterian missionary, was also a poet and a hymn writer.  Her most enduring hymn was “Pass, Pass, All Earthly Joy,” published most frequently as “Fade, Fade, Each Earthly Joy.”  Interestingly, Jane was related by marriage to Josephine Butler (1828-1906).  Horatius Boar and Jane Catherine Lundie wed in the manse at Kelso.  They had nine children, five of whom they buried.

Bonar was active on the denominational level of the Free Church of Scotland.  For many years he edited The Border Watch, the official organ of the Free Church.  In 1866 our saint left Kelso for Chalmers Memorial Church, Edinburgh.  He also served as the Moderator of the Free Church’s General Assembly in 1883.

Biblical prophecy was another interest Bonar pursued.  He developed it in 1855-1856, while traveling in Egypt and Palestine.  For many years he edited The Journal of Prophecy.

Bonar’s catalog of published works included the following:

  1. Songs for the Wilderness (1843);
  2. The Bible Hymn Book (1845);
  3. Hymns, Original and Selected (1846);
  4. Hymns of Faith and Hope (1857, 1861);
  5. The Song of the New Creation (1872); and
  6. Hymns of the Nativity (1879).

Ironically, the Session of Chalmers Memorial Church forbade the singing of hymns and allowed the singing only of metrical Psalms.

Bonar, aged 80 years, died in Edinburgh on July 31, 1889.

Many of his hymns have endured, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWIN PAXTON HOOD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, PHILANTHROPIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID JAESCHKE, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; AND HIS GRANDSON, HENRI MARC VOLDEMAR VOULLAIRE, MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF ENMEGAHBOWN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO THE OJIBWA NATION

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH DACRE CARLYLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Horatius Bonar 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 Horatius Bonar (July 31)

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  1. Pingback: Horatius Bonar | GATHERED PRAYERS

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