Archive for the ‘Godfrey Thring’ Tag

Feast of Godfrey Thring (September 13)   3 comments

08952v

Above:  Wells Cathedral, Between 1890 and 1900

Published by the Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-08952

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GODFREY THRING (MARCH 25, 1823-SEPTEMBER 13, 1903)

Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

The Reverend John Gake Dalton Thring, Rector of Alford, Somerset, England, and his wife, Sarah Jenkyns Thring, had a son, Godfrey Thring, in 1823. A previous son, Edward Thring, had arrived in 1821.

Edward was a remarkable person.  He, ordained by The Church of England in 1846, served as the headmaster of Uppingham School from 1853 to 1887.  He transformed it from a small, rural school into a large, public one.  Edward also encouraged music education, considered one of his duties to be to identify what each student could do well, and wrote Theory and Practice of Teaching (1883) for young teachers.  He was one of the leading English educators of his day.

Both Edward and Godfrey grew up in a household that taught them more of duty than of sentimentality.  John Gale Dalton Thring wanted Godfrey to enter the Royal Army, but Sarah Jenkyns Thring, insisted upon the priesthood for her younger son.  Godfrey obeyed his mother and fulfilled his duties with great care.  He served a few congregations for the first twelve years of his priesthood.  Then, in 1858, the Baillol College, Oxford-educated Godfrey succeeded his father as the Rector of Alford.  He was a rural dean (1867-1876) then the Prebendary of East Harptree at Wells Cathedral (1876-1893).

Our saint made his primary contribution in the realm of hymnody.  He wrote many hymns.  He also compiled three hymnals:

  • Hymns Congregational and Others; Hymns and Verses (1866);
  • Hymns and Sacred Lyrics (1874); and
  • A Church of England Hymn Book Adapted to the Daily Services of the Church Throughout the Year (1880); revised as The Church of England Hymn Book (1882).

Our saint’s 1880/1882 hymnal constituted a protest against the practice of factions within The Church of England publishing their own hymnals, thereby denying adherents of other factions certain hymns.  The 1880/1882 hymnal also established a new, higher literary standard for English hymnals.  It favored quality of words over rampant Victorian sentimentality.

I got the impression from reading the brief biography of our saint in Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody:  A Manual of The Methodist Hymnal, 2d. Ed. (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937) that McCutchan preferred more sentimentality than did Godfrey Thring.  But there is such a thing as excessive sentimentality.

In a letter Edward Thring told his brother, our saint:

Be sure that no painting, no art work you could have done, by any possibility could have been so powerful for good, or given you the niche you now occupy.  As long as the English language lasts, sundry of your hymns will be read or sung, yea, even to the last day, and many a soul of God’s best creatures thrill with your words.  What more can a man want?  Very likely, if you had all the old heathendom rammed into you, as I had, and all the literary artists slicing and pruning, and had been scissored like me, you would have lost the freshness and simple touch which make you what you are.  No, my boy, I make a tidy schoolmaster and pass into the lives of many a pupil, and you live on the lips of the Church.  So be satisfied.  And what does it matter, if we do the Master’s work?

–Quoted in Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody (1937), 70

Godfrey Thring occupied a fine niche in the Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 12, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF EMMEGAHBOWH, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT FREDERICK OF UTRECHT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR; AND SAINT ODULT OF UTRECHT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Godfrey Thring

and all those who with us have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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