Archive for the ‘Reginald Heber’ 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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Feast of Charles Simeon, Henry Martyn, and Abdul Masih (March 4)   Leave a comment

church-missionary-society-logo

Above:  Logo of the Church Missionary Society

Image in the Public Domain

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CHARLES SIMEON (SEPTEMBER 24, 1759-NOVEMBER 13, 1836)

Anglican Priest and Promoter of Missions

His feast transferred from November 12

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HENRY MARTYN (FEBRUARY 18, 1781-OCTOBER 16, 1812)

Anglican Priest, Linguist, Translator, and Missionary

His feast transferred from October 19

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ABDUL MASIH (1776-MARCH 4, 1827)

Indian Convert and Missionary

His feast = March 4

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Among my purposes for the renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize influences and relationships.  Hence I transfer two saints from their established feast days (according to The Episcopal Church) to the designated feast day of Abdul Masih (according to The Church of North India), who might not have become a Christian without their efforts.

charles-simeon

Above:  Charles Simeon

Image in the Public Domain

Charles Simeon entered the world at Reading, England, on September 24, 1759.  He grew up in a prominent family and in The Church of England.  Our saint, educated at Eton and at King’s College, Cambridge, had a conversion experience while a student at Cambridge.  He had previously thought of taking the Holy Communion in negative terms, for he had thought of worthiness to partake in the sacrament as a matter of obedience to divine commandments.  After his conversion experience, however, Simeon realized the merits of Christ made one worthy to partake of the Holy Eucharist.  In 1782 our saint graduated from King’s College, became a fellow thereof, and became the Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge.  At first he had to contend with much opposition, due to his membership in the evangelical wing of The Church of England.  Nevertheless, he won widespread acceptance over time.

henry-martyn

Above:  Henry Martyn

Image in the Public Domain

Henry Martyn was among the people whom Simeon influenced.  Martyn entered the world at Truro, Cornwall, England, on February 18, 1781.  He, educated at Truro then at St. John’s College, Cambridge, from 1797 to 1801, intended originally to pursue a career in the law.  Simeon, however, persuaded him to follow a different path.  Martyn, who became a fellow at St. John’s College in 1802, became a deacon in 1803 before joining the ranks of priests.  After a brief tenure as the Curate of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, under Simeon, Martyn became a missionary.

Simeon had helped to found the Church Missionary Society (originally the Society for Missions to Africa and East and currently the Church Mission Society) in 1799.  He also advised the East India Company on the selection of chaplains.  In 1806 Martyn arrived in Calcutta as a chaplain of the East India Company.  He spent five years in India.  During that time he founded schools and churches, translated the New Testament and The Book of Common Prayer into Hindi, studied Farsi, and translated the New Testament into that language.

abdul-masih

Above:  Abdul Masih

Image in the Public Domain

Among the people Martyn brought to Christian faith was Sheikh Salih, a Muslim scholar aged 38 years. Salih, born at Delhi in 1776, learned Arabic and Persian at an early age.  He became a scholar and a teacher at Lucknow.  Salih met and befriended Martyn, the chaplain at Cawnpore.  On Pentecost Sunday 1811 Salih, due to Martyn’s influence, became not only a Christian but Abdul Masih, literally “Servant of the Messiah.”

Masih was a Christian for about twelve years—the rest of his life.  For eight years he was a catechist for the Church Missionary Society.  Then he spent a time as a Lutheran minister before returning to The Church of England in 1825.  That year Reginald Heber (1783-1826), the Bishop of Calcutta from 1823 to 1826, ordained him.  Masih, a medical missionary (because he operated a dispensary), pursued a respectful strategy of converting Muslims.  He, being the intellectual he was, engaged them in scholarly conversations.  He converted and baptized Muslims for the rest of his life.  Masih died of natural causes at Lucknow on March 4, 1827.  He was either 50 or 51 years old.

Martyn left India for Persia in 1811.  There he became the first English clergyman in the city of Shirmas.  Martyn also engaged Muslim scholars in theological discussions and corrected his earlier translations into Farsi.  While in Persia Martyn developed the desire to visit Arabia and to translate the New Testament into Arabic.  In 1812, while en route to Constantinople, Martyn stopped at the Armenian city of Tokat in the Ottoman Empire.  There he died, aged 31 years.  Local Armenian Christians buried him with the honors they usually reserved for a bishop.

Martyn was among the founders of modern Christianity in Iran and India.

One wonders what else Martyn would have done had he lived longer.

Simeon, who served as the Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, for 54 years, published many sermons and became one of the leading members of the evangelical wing of The Church of England.  He died at Cambridge on November 13, 1836.  He was 77 years old.

The influences of all three men have survived them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 5, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA

THE FEAST OF ANTONIO LOTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENOVEVA TORRES MORALES, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS AND THE HOLY ANGELS

THE FEAST OF MARGARET MACKAY, SCOTTISH HYMN WRITER

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Lord God, you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servants

Charles Simeon, Henry Martyn, and Addul Masih,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and,

at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of Henry Hart Milman (September 24)   1 comment

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Above:  St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Between 1910 and 1920

Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-D4-73191

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HENRY HART MILMAN (FEBRUARY 10, 1791-SEPTEMBER 24, 1868)

Anglican Dean, Translator, Historian, Theologian, and Hymn Writer

Henry Hart Milman was a scholar and a clergyman.  Some accused him of being to much a rationalist and a scholar, but his hymn texts, some of which I have added to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog, reveal his piety well.

Our saint, son of Sir Francis Milman, physician to King George III (reigned 1760-1820), pursued a literary, historical, and theological path.  Milman, educated at Greenwich then Eton then Brasenose College, Oxford, won the Newdigate Prize for his Belvidere Apollo and became a fellow of the college.  Our saint, after his brilliant career as a student at Oxford, took Anglican Holy Orders.  He served at St. Mary’s, Reading (1818-1821), as a Professor at Oxford (1821-1831, and as Bampton Lecturer in 1827), as Canon of Westminster and Rector of St. Margaret’s (1835-1849), and as Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (1849-1868).

The man was multi-talented.  He wrote dramas, including the acclaimed Fazio.  Our saint, among the earliest Western translators of texts from the Indian subcontinent, published Nala and Damayanti, and Other Poems (1835).  His Poetical Works filled three volumes.  Our saint edited Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776) then published the Life of Gibbon the following year.  And Milman, a historian, wrote multi-volume works such as History of the Jews (1830), History of Christianity from the Birth of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire (1840), and History of Latin Christianity to the Pontificate of Nicholas V (1856).  I have found the extend of his works available at archive.org impressive, thus I encourage you, O reader, to visit that website and find all the Milman texts your intellect might crave.

Milman also wrote thirteen hymns at the suggestion of his good friend, Bishop Reginald Heber.  These texts appeared in Heber’s posthumous Hymns Adapted to the Weekly Service of the Year (1827).  (The initials H.M.M. appear at the top of Milman’s hymns in the book.)  Among his greatest hymns was “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty,” a Palm Sunday text.

Milman was also a theological pioneer of sorts. His History of the Jews (1830), which was sympathetic to them, caused a great controversy, which led to official censure by ecclesiastical authorities and a temporary halt in the publication of the volumes.  (Revised editions followed in time.)  The cause of the uproar was Milman’s introduction of rationalistic German theology into England–at least what the Presbyterian Handbook to the Hymnal (1935) called

the first decisive inroad of German theology into England.

–page 164

In plain English, Milman minimized the miraculous and sought, with academic rigor, natural explanations.  That was fine, for God does work through nature, does God not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 9, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN SCHMOLCK, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER, ENGLISH POET AND FEMINIST

THE FEAST OF HANNAH GRIER COOME, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERHOOD OF SAINT JOHN THE DIVINE

THE FEAST OF JOHN HOOPER, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Henry Hart Milman and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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