Archive for the ‘Hymns for the Family of God (1976)’ Tag

Feast of Alfred Tennyson (August 5)   2 comments

Tennyson

Image in the Public Domain

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ALFRED TENNYSON (AUGUST 6, 1809-OCTOBER 6, 1892)

English Poet

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For finished and exquisite artistry he had no peer among his contemporaries.  His mind moved habitually on high levels; his teaching was always on what ennobles and exalts; and though his sensitive spirit was acutely alive to to the questionings and spiritual uncertainties of his age, which his work faithfully reflects, his faith in Divine goodness and guidance and in the life beyond gave comfort and strength to his generation.

–James Moffatt, ed. Handbook to the Church Hymnary (London, England, UK:  Oxford University Press, 1927), pages 516 and 517

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Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), perhaps the most famous English poet of the Victorian age, was son of George Clayton Tennyson, an Anglican priest.  Our saint published is first volume of poetry with his brother Charles; Poems by Two Brothers (1827) debuted before Tennyson started his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge (1828).  While a student there he published a solo volume, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830).  Many great poems followed.  Our saint became the national Poet Laureate in 1850.  In 1884 he became a peer, the Baron Tennyson of Aldworth and Farringford.  He died in 1892, interred at Westminster Abbey.

Tennyson, who never wrote hymns per se, did compose texts from which others excerpted hymns.  Here is one example:

Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar

When I put out to sea,

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But such a tide as moving seems asleep,

Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep

Turns again home.

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Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell

When I embark;

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For, though from out our bourne of time and place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have reached the bar.

And here is another example:

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light;

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

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Ring out the grief that saps the mind,

For those that here we see no more;

Ring out the feud of rich and poor,

Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite;

Ring in the love of truth and right,

Ring in the common love of good.

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Ring out old shapes of foul disease,

Ring out the narrow lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be.

I found these texts and another one (which I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog) in The Hymnal (1933), Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., one of the better hymnbooks–certainly one classier ones–of the previous century.  And I found another Tennyson in Hymns for the Family of God (1976), one of the hymnals on the other end of the spectrum from classy:

More things are wrought by prayer

Than this world dreams of.

Wherefore, let thy voice

Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

Both for themselves and those who call them friends,

For so the whole round earth is every way

Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

That text is a rare bright spot of quality in that hymnal, populated by a combination of gold and dross–mostly the latter.

This is a post about Tennyson, however, so I return to him.  Our saint, a man of deep piety and great literary ability, used his talents to glorify God and to beautify the world–to exalt the noble and the lovey.  He set the bar very high.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 28, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARNBY, ANGLICAN CHURCH MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD FREDERICK LITTLEDALE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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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 Alfred Tennyson

and all those who with words 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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