Archive for the ‘Baptist Hymnal (2008)’ Tag

Feast of Reginald Heber (April 3)   1 comment

(c) British Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) British Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Above:  Reginald Heber

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

REGINALD HEBER (APRIL 21, 1783-APRIL 3, 1826)

Anglican Bishop of Calcutta and Hymn Writer

The feast day of Reginald Heber in the Church of North India is April 3.  The Book of Worship of the Church of North India (1995) lists his citation as “Reginald Heber (1826):  Bishop, Evangelist.”

Reginald Heber came from an old and prominent Yorkshire family and became a great poet.  He, born at Malpas, Cheshire, England, on April 21, 1783, was a son of Reginald Heber (Sr., I guess), the Anglican Rector of Hodnet.  (Aside:  Would using suffixes, such as “Sr.,” “Jr.,” and “III” have been so difficult?)  Young Reginald Heber received a fine education, which he used.  At the age of seven years he translated Phaedrus, a Socratic dialogue, into English.  Later, at Brasenose College, Oxford, our saint won the prize for the best Latin poem and won the Newdigate Prize for the poem Palestine.  Heber, a Fellow of All Souls College, toured Europe with a friend in 1806.

Then Heber became an Anglican priest.  In 1807 he took Holy Orders.  From 1807 to 1823 served as the Rector of Hodnet.  Along the way he did the following:

  1. He married Amelia Shipley (in 1809) and had to children with her.
  2. He began to publish hymns keyed to the church year in the Christian Observer (in 1811 forward) and worked on Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year, completed by Amelia and published in 1827.  Heber contributed 57 of the 98 hymns.
  3. He became the Prebendary of St. Asaph (1812).
  4. He delivered the Bampton Lectures in 1815.  His topic was The Personality and Office of the Comforter.
  5. He became the Preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, London (1822).

Heber was a liturgical pioneer.  At the time proper Anglicans sang metrical Psalms and dissenters from the Established Church sang hymns.  Our saint, however, embraced the singing of hymns and set out to write texts that would stand the test of time.  Three ideas guided him as he composed hymn texts:

  1. The hymn must be part of the liturgy of the Church and must therefore adapt itself to the Church calendar.
  2. The hymn should come after the Nicene Creed and complement the message of the sermon.
  3. It should be a literary masterpiece.

–Quoted in Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (1952), page 713

I have added 12 of Heber’s texts addressed to God at my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  One might already know “Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God Almighty!,” a hymn for Trinity Sunday, but one might not be familiar with the splendid “When Spring Unlocks the Flowers.”  Unfortunately, many of Heber’s hymns have fallen out of use; I had to find most of those 12 hymns in old hymnals, some of them about a century old.

Heber’s final title was Bishop of Calcutta (1823-1826).  He had a challenging task, for he was the missionary bishop of all of British India.  Our saint worked hard until he died of apoplexy on April 3, 1826, 18 days short of his forty-third birthday.

Heber has not failed to attract criticism post-mortem.  Many of those negative words have been due to a particular hymn, dated 1819:

From Greenland’s icy mountains,

From India’s coral strand,

Where Afric’s sunny fountains

Roll down their golden sand,

From many an ancient river,

From many a palmy plain,

They call us to deliver

Their land from error’s chain.

+++++

What though the spicy breezes

Blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle;

Though every prospect pleases,

And only man is vile:

In vain with lavish kindness

The gifts of God are strown;

The heathen in his blindness

Bows down to wood and stone.

+++++

Can we, whose souls are lighted

With wisdom from on high,

Can we to men benighted

The lamp of life deny?

Salvation! O salvation!

The joyful sound proclaim,

Till each remotest nation

Has learned Messiah’s Name.

+++++

Waft, waft, ye winds, his story,

And you, ye waters, roll,

Till like a sea of glory

It spreads from pole to pole;

Till o’er our ransomed nature

The Lamb for sinners slain,

Redeemer, King, Creator,

In bliss returns to reign.

This hymn has long been a lightning rod for a variety of constituencies.  “And only man is vile” (from the second stanza), a reference to Original Sin, has offended non-Christians and some Christians alike.  Also, the end of the second stanza, with its imagery of heathens bowing down to wood and stone has offended many.  These criticisms have really been about allegations of imperialism and ethnocentrism.  As I learned in Anthropology 101 many moons ago, both cultural relativism and ethnocentrism are fallacies.  I would be surprised if Heber were free of any degree of ethnocentrism, but I have also detected cultural relativism in criticisms of the hymn.

This hymn has fallen out of favor in modern hymnody.  It has, of course, fallen into disuse in mainline churches, as measured by denominational hymnals.  The hymn has also fallen out of favor in more conservative denominations, as measured by their hymnals.  I, as a collector of hymnals, have consulted my library and found that, in the current generation of conservative Protestant denominational hymnals, the following volumes, successors to volumes that included this hymn, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains” is absent:

  1. Baptist Hymnal (2008),
  2. The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (1996),
  3. Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996),
  4. Lift Up Your Hearts:  Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (2013),
  5. Lutheran Service Book (2006), and
  6. Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (1990).

Furthermore, the official list of hymns for the Trinity Psalter Hymnal (scheduled for publication in late 2017), successor to the Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (1990), does not include “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains.”  Nevertheless, the Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (1994) does.

More people should lighten up.

Heber could have led a life of relative ease at Hodnet, but he accepted the challenge to become a missionary bishop.  He spent his life glorifying God and left a legacy in souls and in theologically dense and well-composed hymn texts.  He was certainly worthy of recognition as a saint.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Reginald Heber 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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Anne Steele (November 11)   1 comment

Flag of England

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ANNE STEELE (MAY 1716-NOVEMBER 11, 1778)

First Important English Female Hymn Writer

+++++++++++++++++++++++

A mother may forgetful be,

For human love is frail;

But thy Creator’s love to thee,

O Zion! cannot fail.

+++++

No! thy dear name engraven stands,

In characters of love,

On thy almighty Father’s hands;

And never shall remove.

+++++

Before His ever watchful eye

Thy mournful state appears,

And every groan, and every sigh,

Divine compassion hears.

+++++

O Zion! learn to doubt no more,

Be every fear suppressed;

Unchanging truth, and love, and power,

Dwell in thy Saviour’s breast.

–Quoted in Henry Ward Beecher, Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes for the Use of Christian Congregations (1855), #915

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Anne Steele (1716-1778) was the first important female hymn writer in England.  In 1808, when Trinity Episcopal Church, Boston, Massachusetts, published its hymnal, 59 of the 141 hymns came from the pen of our saint.  Although Steele was a Baptist, I have found some of her texts most often in hymnbooks of non-Baptist origin.  In fact, I found biographies of her in ten of the twenty-three hymnal companion volumes in my library.  Their affiliations were, in descending order:

  1. Lutheran–3;
  2. Methodist–2;
  3. Seventh-day Adventist–1;
  4. Presbyterian–1;
  5. Evangelical and Reformed–1;
  6. Episcopalian–1;
  7. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and American Baptist Convention–1.

(The Hymnbook for Christian Worship, 1970, was the official hymnal of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the American Baptist Convention/American Baptist Churches U.S.A.).

Her texts and biography are absent from the Southern Baptist hymnbooks of 1956, 1975, 1991, and 2008.  Furthermore, the theologically more moderate and stylistically more traditional (compared to the Baptist Hymnal of 2008) Celebrating Grace Hymnal (2010) also lacks any texts by Anne Steele.  On the other hand, the New Baptist Hymnal (1926), a joint project of the Northern and Southern Baptist Conventions, contained some Steele hymns, as did its immediate Northern Baptist successor, Christian Worship:  A Hymnal (1941), a project with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  I cannot make any claim as to the presence of Steele hymns in The Broadman Hymnal (1940), the first hymnal to bring some uniformity of hymnody to the Southern Baptist Convention, for the volume lacks an index of authors.

Anne Steele (1716-1778) spent her life in Broughton, Hampshire, England.  Her great-uncle, Henry Steele, served the Baptist church there as a lay pastor.  Her father, William Steele (died in 1769), was a lumber merchant with a considerable financial inheritance who served as a deacon and an occasional preacher in that congregation for thirty years before serving as the unpaid lay pastor there for three decades.

Anne spent most of her life as a frequently bedridden invalid in constant pain.  A hip injury she suffered at age 19 created that reality.  She was engaged to marry at one point, but her intended drowned the day before the scheduled wedding.  Our saint, who never married, assisted her father in his ministry as she was able.  She also devoted herself to literary pursuits, writing 144 hymns, 34 metrical psalms, and 30 poems.  She disliked publicity, so she refused to submit any of her compositions for publication for a long time.  When The Spectator published some of her texts under the name “Steele,” many readers assumed erroneously that the author must have been Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729), a politician, essayist, and playwright.  Poems on Subjects, Chiefly Devotional (1760) rolled off the presses, identifying the author as “Theodosia.”

Our saint died on November 11, 1778.  Her epitaph declared:

Silent the lyre, and dumb the tuneful tongue,

That sung on earth her great Redeemer’s praise;

But now in heaven she joins the angels’ songs,

In more harmonious, more exalted lays.

Posthumous collections of her verse and works about her appeared in 1780, 1808, and 1863.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 22, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD BIGGS, ACTOR

THE FEAST OF GEORG GOTTFRIED MULLER, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Anne Steele 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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Daniel March, Sr. (March 2)   Leave a comment

Woburn Public Library

Above:  Public Library, Woburn, Massachusetts, Circa 1880

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-15349

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

DANIEL MARCH, SR. (JULY 21, 1816-MARCH 2, 1909)

U.S. Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist

Daniel March, Sr., was a prolific author and enthusiastic world traveler.  Many people considered him to be very well-informed and worth listening to and reading.  Yet his books have faded into obscurity and one hymn–“Hark! the Voice of Jesus Crying” (1868)–has become the text on which his historical reputation rests.  The hymn if four stanzas includes a frequently omitted stanza–the one which speaks of “heathen lands” and “heathen nearer.”  The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) lacks that stanza because of what follows the “heathen” references–theology with which I agree yet which certain Confessional Lutherans considered troublesome in the late 1930 and 1940s, and which many adherents of that school of Christianity still find objectionable.  That stanza, in fact, is absent from both versions of the hymn in the Lutheran Service Book (2006), a successor of The Lutheran Hymnal.  Our saint, an enthusiastic supporter of missions, wrote:

Hark! the voice of Jesus crying,

“Who will go and work today?

Fields are white and harvests waiting,

Who will bear the sheaves away?”

Loud and long the Master calleth,

Rich reward He offers thee;

Who will answer, gladly saying,

“Here am I, send me, send me”?

+++++

If you cannot cross the ocean,

And the heathen lands explore,

You can find the heathen nearer,

You can help them at your door;

If you cannot give your thousands,

You can give the widow’s mite,

And the least you give for Jesus

Will be precious in His sight.

+++++

If you cannot speak like angels,

If you cannot preach like Paul,

You can tell the love of Jesus,

You can say he died for all.

If you cannot rouse the wicked

With the Judgment’s dread alarms,

You can lead the little children

To the Savior’s waiting arms.

+++++

Let none hear you idly saying,

“There is nothing I can do,”

While the souls of men are dying

And the Master calls for you.

Take the work He gives you gladly,

Let His work your pleasure be;

Answer quickly when he calleth,

“Here I am, send me, send me!”

The treatment of the hymn in other hymn books interests me.  In some hymnals Jesus is crying; in others, however, he is calling.  The committee which prepared The Methodist Hymnal (1935) changed no words yet omitted the third stanza.  The Pilgrim Hymnal (1931/1935) committee, however, altered the text–a practice which dated to March’s time and bothered him.  In the 1931/1935 hymnal the third stanza was absent , “heathen lands” became “mission lands,” the “heathen nearer” became the “needy nearer,” and “Rich reward he offers thee” became “Flings a challenge strong to thee.”  The hymn has fallen out of favor with many hymnal committees since the 1950s, being absent, for example, from successor hymnals of the United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church, and their predecessor bodies.  I have read altered versions of the text and seldom read all four original stanzas in other hymnals.  For example, The Baptist Hymnal (1991) and the Baptist Hymnal (2008) speaks of “distant lands” and the “lost around you,” but not of the heathen.  The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (1996) offers all four stanzas, albeit in altered form; there is “a distant land” instead of “heathen lands,” and the “pagan nearby” instead of the “heathen nearer.” The Trinity Hymnal (1961), the Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (1990), and the Trinity Hymnal–Baptist Edition (1995) offer the same four-stanza version–one which replaces March’s third stanza with words he did not write and leaves the rest of the text as he composed it.  (I like having a collection of hymnals!)

The author of that hymn entered the world at Millburg, Massachusetts, on July 21, 1816.  His parents were Samuel March and Zoa Park March, farmers.  Our saint, the third of six children, attended the Millburg Academy before matriculating at Amherst College in 1834.  He left Amherst College after two years without graduating yet graduated from Yale College with his B.A. degree in 1840.  March worked as the Principal of Fairfield Academy, Fairfield, Connecticut, from 1840 to 1843 before completing his theological studies at Yale in 1845.  By then he had earned his M.A. from Yale (1843), had been a licensed preacher for three years, and had been the husband of Jane Parker Gilson March (1818-1857) for four years.

Some of the hymnal companion volumes and hymn websites I consulted informed me erroneously that March’s 1845 ordination was in the Presbyterian Church.  Actually, the ordaining authority was the Fairfield West Association, and his first pastorate was the Congregational Church at Cheshire, Connecticut, from 1845 to 1848.  About six years (1849-1855) at First Congregational Church, Nashua, New Hampshire, followed.  From 1856 to 1862 our saint ministered at First Congregational Church, Woburn, Massachusetts.

Then March’s Presbyterian connections began.  He served as the pastor of Clinton Street Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1862 to 1876.  He also spent part of the 1860s serving on the Presbyterian Publication Committee (headquartered in that city), which published some of his books.  And March was, from the 1860s until his death, a minister of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, even though he returned to the pulpit of the First Congregational Church of Woburn for a second tenure (1877-1895).

March, as a family man, married twice.  He and his first wife, Jane Parker Gilson March (1818-1857), had four children:

  1. Anna Parker March (1842-1863);
  2. Charles A. March, who became an attorney and outlived his father;
  3. Daniel March, Jr. (1884-1897), who became a doctor; and
  4. Frederick William March (1847-1935), who became a Presbyterian minister and a missionary to Syria.

Our saint remarried in 1859.  His second wife was Anna LeConte March, who died in 1879.

Dr. Daniel March, Sr. (Doctor of Divinity, Western University of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, 1864) opposed slavery, supported foreign missions, and was a relatively High Church Calvinist.  His published works included an antislavery speech, devotional and other theological books, and a volume of liturgical forms.  Those works include the following:

  1. Yankee Land and the Yankee (1840);
  2. A Poem Delivered Before the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Yale College, August 19, 1846 (1846);
  3. The Crisis of Freedom:  Remarks on the Duty Which All Christian Men and Good Citizens Owe to Their Country in the Present State of Public Affairs (1854);
  4. Walks and Homes of Jesus (1866);
  5. Night Scenes in the Bible (1868);
  6. Our Father’s House, or the Unwritten Word (1869);
  7. Home Life in the Bible (1873);
  8. The Introduction to Household Worship (1873), by a Layman;
  9. Public Worship, Partly Responsive; Designed for Any Christian Congregation (1873);
  10. An article on “Research and Travel in Bible Lands” in Wood’s Bible Animals (1877), by J. G. Wood;
  11. From Dark to Dawn; Being a Second Series of Night Scenes in the Bible (1878);
  12. The Introduction to The Pictoral Bible and Commentator–New Edition (1878), by Ingram Cobbin;
  13. The First Khedive:  Lessons in the Life of Joseph (1887);
  14. Walks with Jesus; or, Days of the Son of Man (1888); and
  15. Morning Light in Many Lands (1891).

March delivered his last sermon at First Congregational Church, Woburn, Massachusetts, in July 1908.  He died in that town less than a year later–on March 2, 1909.  He was ninety-two years old.  Yet our saint’s hymn lives on in various altered forms.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SYNCLETIA OF ALEXANDRIA, DESERT MOTHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABELARD OF CORBIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE PALLOTINES

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Daniel March, Sr.)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++