Feast of Edmund Hamilton Sears (January 16)   1 comment

Above:  First Parish Church, Wayland, Massachusetts

Image in the Public Domain

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EDMUND HAMILTON SEARS (APRIL 6, 1810-JANUARY 16, 1876)

U.S. Unitarian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Biblical Scholar

Edmund Hamilton Sears left a fine legacy.  Anyone who has sung “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” written in 1849 and published the following year, has experienced the most popular part of that legacy.  One may not know that Sears wrote other hymns–Christmas carols, mostly–because the majority of his hymn texts have fallen into disuse.

Sears was a Unitarian minister.  He, born in Sandisfield, Massachusetts, on April 6, 1810, studied at Westfield Academy then at Union College, Schenectady, New York, graduating in 1834.  Our saint, intent on becoming an attorney, briefly read law under Thomas Twining, Sandisfield.  Then Sears became a teacher at Brattleboro, Vermont, and studied theology.  He completed theological studies at Harvard Divinity School in 1837.  Our saint, ordained on February 20, 1839, embarked on a religious career.

Sears was pastor of First Parish Church, Wayland, Massachusetts, in 1839-1840 and in 1848-1865.  He was an attentive pastor who initially overworked himself.  Sears, following medical advice, resigned in 1840.  He purchased a farm in the area and became healthier.  The pulpit at First Parish Church was open again in 1848, when the congregation welcomed him back.  Our saint, Christologically orthodox, wrote hymns, as I have mentioned.  At Wayland he also wrote the following books:

  1. Regeneration (1854);
  2. Pictures of the Olden Time, as Shown in the Fortunes of a Family of Pilgrims (1857); and
  3. Athanasia, or Foregleams of Immortality (First Edition, 1858; Second Edition, 1873).

He also became an editor of the Monthly Religious Magazine, a position he held until 1871.

Sears served as pastor of the First Parish Church, Weston, Massachusetts, from 1866 to 1876.  During those years, he received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Harvard (1871) and went on a lecture tour of England (1873).  He also published the following books:

  1. The Fourth Gospel, the Heart of Christ (1872), and
  2. Sermons and Songs of the Christian Life (1875).

Sears, aged 65 years, died in Weston on January 16, 1876.

A posthumous volume, Christ in the Life:  Sermons, with a Selection of Poems, debuted the following year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Edmund Hamilton Sears 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 Edmund Hamilton Sears (January 16)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of Eliza Scudder (September 27) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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