Archive for the ‘Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (1990)’ 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.

+++++

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

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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 Augustus Nelson (June 18)   1 comment

Augustus Nelson

Above:  Augustus Nelson

Image Source = The Escanaba Daily Press, Escanaba, Michigan, June 27, 1924, Page 4

Accessed via newspapers.com

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AUGUSTUS NELSON (SEPTEMBER 20, 1863-JUNE 18, 1949)

Swedish-American Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator

The name of Augustus Nelson came to my attention as I added English-language translations of Swedish hymns to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  I made a note to myself to learn more about him as part of the process of considering him for addition to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  A meme I saw on Facebook recently depicted an iceberg, most of which was underwater.  The portion of the iceberg above water represented canonized saints, and the majority of the iceberg represented all the other saints.  Nelson has come to my Ecumenical Calendar from the portion of the iceberg that is underwater.

Nelson, born in Sweden on September 20, 1863, emigrated to the United States of America in 1883.  Here he made great contributions to communities, congregations, and the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod in North America (1860-1894)/Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod in North America (1894-1948)/Augustana Lutheran Church (1948-1962).  Upon his arrival in the U.S.A. Nelson worked as a farm laborer.  He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, in 1890.  Next our saint continued his studies at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, and at Augustana Theological Seminary, Rock Island, Illinois.  Nelson, ordained in 1898, married his love, Emma, who had studied music at Gustavus Adolphus College, on September 7, 1898.  She was 13 years his junior.  The couple had four children, all of whom became educators:

  1. Anna Regina E. Nelson (Quist) (1899-1981);
  2. Ruth G. E. Nelson (Johnson) (1900-1992), who was also a missionary in Tanganyika (now Tanzania);
  3. Carl E. A. Nelson (1902-1978?); and
  4. Esther E. Nelson (Carlson) (1915-1990).

Emma died at Mankato, Minnesota, on March 25, 1957, aged 77 years.  She had survived her husband by about eight years.  Her four children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren survived her.

Our saint served at various congregations, mostly in the Midwest.  First was Bethany Lutheran Church,  at Escanaba, Michigan, from 1898 to 1902.  During the next several years the Nelsons were in Waukegan, Illinois, then New Haven, Connecticut.  From 1906 to August 1909 Nelson was minister at Trade Lake, Wisconsin.  A 15-year-long tenure at Zion Lutheran Church, Manistique, Michigan, and its mission at Thompson, also on the Upper Peninsula, followed.  Then, from 1924 to 1938, our saint ministered at Clear Lake, Minnesota, and its mission at Gibbon.  He retired to Minneapolis in 1938 and eventually moved to Mankato, where he died, aged 85 years, on June 18, 1949.

Nelson also served beyond the congregational level.  From 1904 to 1906 he sat on the board of the Augustana Synod’s Upsala College, East Orange, New Jersey.  Our saint also served on the denominational Board of Education from 1922 to 1924.  Furthermore, he was the secretary of the Augustana Synod’s Superior Conference for nine years which included 1922-1925.

Nelson translated hymns, mostly from Swedish but also from Latin.  I have added four of these to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.  A fifth text was a translation from the writings of St. Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus (circa 530-600/609):

Praise the Saviour

Now and ever!

Praise Him all beneath the skies!

Prostrate lying,

Suffering, dying

On the cross, a Sacrifice;

Victory gaining,

Life obtaining,

Now in glory He doth rise.

+++++

Man’s work faileth,

Christ’s availeth,

He is all our Righteousness.

He our Saviour

Hath forever

Set us free from dire distress

We inherit

Through his merit

Light and peace and happiness.

+++++

Sin’s bonds severed,

We’re delivered,

Christ hath bruised the serpent’s head;

Death no longer

Is the stronger,

Hell itself is captive led.

Christ hath risen

From death’s prison,

O’er the tomb He light hath shed.

+++++

For His favor

Praise forever

Unto God the Father sing;

Praise the Saviour,

Praise Him ever,

Son of God, our Lord and King;

Praise the Spirit,

Through Christ’s merit.

He doth us salvation bring.

Nelson’s legacy of hymnody does survive, albeit less robustly than it did in hymnals published prior to 1990.  My survey of denominational hymnals published since 1990 indicates that each of the following volumes contains one translation by our saint:

  1. Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian Church in America, 1990),
  2. Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, 1994),
  3. Trinity Hymnal–Baptist Edition (Reformed Baptist, 1995),
  4. The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (The Evangelical Covenant Church of America, 1996), and
  5. Glory to God:  The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2013).

One can, however, find other and more translations by Nelson in older hymnals (especially those of Lutheran denominations in North America) and at hymn websites.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 5, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SAINT OF SAINT AVITUS OF VIENNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDWARD HAYES PLUMPTRE, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF JAPAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILEAS AND PHILOROMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Augustus Nelson and others, who have translated 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 Carl Doving (October 2)   2 comments

Decorah, Iowa 1908

Above:  Panoramic View of Decorah, Iowa, Circa 1908

Copyright Claimant = Brunt & Parman

H116196–U.S. Copyright Office

Image Source = Library of Congress

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CARL DOVING (MARCH 21, 1867-OCTOBER 2, 1937)

Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator

I collect hymnals from different denominations for several reasons, including the fact that variety in hymnody interests me.  Variety is the spice of life with regard to hymns, for it guards against a generic, vanilla sensibility in church music and texts thereto.  Hymns which Carl Doving (1867-1937), or, as The Service Hymnal:  A Lutheran Homecoming (2001) misspells his last name, “Dovig,” translated are most likely to appear in hymnals of denominations with a Scandinavian or German heritage, for he rendered texts from Scandinavian and German sources into English.  These English-language texts are products of a finely honed mind, the intellect of a skilled linguist, and a deep trust in God.

Doving, a native of Norddalen, Norway, lived in Norway, South Africa, and the United States of America.  In 1883, ag age 16, he moved to the Natal, South Africa.  There Bishop Nils Astrup, a missionary of the Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (SNELCA), educated him.  Our saint taught at Astrup’s Schreuder Mission, Untunjambili, for a few years before emigrating to the United States at age 23 in 1890.  He studied at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, for three years, graduating in 1893 then commencing studies at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, from which he graduated in 1896.  Along the way to becoming an ordained minister of the SNELCA then its immediate successor, the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (1917-1946)/The Evangelical Lutheran Church (1946-1960), wrote three books from his experiences in South Africa:

  1. Billeder fra Syd-Afrika (1892),
  2. Blandt Zuluerne i Syd-Afrika (1894), and
  3. Izihabelelo (1896).

The last book was a volume of Zulu hymns;  the first two were apparently about missionary efforts among the Zulus, according to the scant information I found online.

My sources–books, secondary websites, and primary sources I accessed via Internet searches–helped me to establish some dates in Doving’s career, but not as many as I would have preferred.  I do know the following, however:

  1. Doving served a churches in Red Wing and Montevideo, Minnesota.  He was serving at the congregation in Montevideo in 1902.
  2. In 1903 the SNELCA asked Doving to undertake missionary work among the Zulus.  I have found no indication of his reply.
  3. By 1905 Doving was serving as pastor of the First Scandinavian Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, New York, New York.  He remained there through at least 1911, perhaps 1912.
  4. Doving served as a visiting pastor in Freeborn County, Minnesota, in October and November 1912, overlapping with the long-term tenure of Olof Hanson Smeby (1851-1929) there.  By then Smeby and Doving had concluded their service on the committee for The Lutheran Hymnary (1913).
  5. Doving’s final assignment was as city missionary in Chicago.  This work was well underway by 1916.  One of our saint’s duties was visiting people in hospitals.  Many of them were immigrants not fluent in English.  Fortunately, Doving was fluent in German, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, and Greek.

Preface

Above:  The Conclusion of the Preface to The Lutheran Hymnary (1913)

Scanned from the 1935 edition of The Lutheran Hymnary by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Doving applied his linguistic abilities to translating German and Scandinavian hymns also.  Some sources I consulted indicated that The Lutheran Hymnary contains 32 of his translations.  I counted hymns and wrote down titles, however, and arrived at a different number–37.

Mason City Globe-Citizen, March 6, 1934, page 16 01

Mason City Globe-Citizen, March 6, 1934, page 16 02

Above:  An Article from the Mason City Globe-Citizen, Mason City, Iowa, March 6, 1934, Page 16

Obtained via newspapers.com

The Lutheran Hymnary and users thereof benefited from our saint’s large hymnological library and extensive knowledge of hymnology.  Doving donated that library to Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, in 1934.  Since 1997 the custodian of said library has been Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.  That library contains thousands of hymnals and books about hymns in more than 300 languages and from six continents.  The oldest book in the collection dates to the middle 1600s; the most recent volume comes from the early 1900s.  It is a collection which a recognized expert in the field of hymnology assembled.

Carl Doving (D.D., Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, 1931), died at Chicago, Illinois, on October 2, 1937.  His hymn translations survive, and not only in out-of-print hymnbooks.  My survey of germane, current hymnals reveals the following count of Doving texts, in descending order:

  1. Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (The Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 1996)–16;
  2. Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, 1994)–11;
  3. Christian Worship:  A Lutheran Hymnal (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 1993)–5;
  4. Lutheran Service Book (The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, 2006)–3;
  5. The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (The Evangelical Covenant Church of America, 1996)–2;
  6. The Service Book:  A Lutheran Homecoming (unofficial, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2001)–2;
  7. Celebrating Grace Hymnal (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, 2010)–1;
  8. Chalice Hymnal (Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 1995)–1;
  9. Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2006)–1;
  10. Moravian Book of Worship (Moravian Church in America, 1995)–1;
  11. The New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ, 1995)–1;
  12. The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1985)–1;
  13. Trinity Hymnal–Baptist Edition (Reformed Baptist, 1995)–1; and
  14. Trinity Hymnal–Revised Edition (Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian Church in America, 1990)–1.

I checked many other current hymnals in my collection and found no Carl Doving texts in them.

The top two hymnals on the list come from denominations with a dominant Norwegian heritage.  The Evangelical Lutheran Synod formed in opposition to the merger which created the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (1917-1946)/The Evangelical Lutheran Church (1946-1960), which merged into The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987).  The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations is the remnant of The Lutheran Free Church, which merged into The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987) in 1963.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also has a strong Norwegian heritage.

Denominations with strong German roots include the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Moravian Church in America, and the United Church of Christ.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has strong Swedish and Danish roots, as well as Icelandic and Finnish heritages.  Hymnals of Swedish and Danish immigrant denominations had a stronger Scandinavian hymnody than non-ethnic U.S. Lutheran hymnbooks have had, beginning with the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  The Evangelical Covenant Church of America has Swedish immigrant roots.

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has an ethnic Finnish constituency also.

Our saint left a fine legacy, one which continues to benefit people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENNA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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

thank you for those (especially Carl Doving)

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

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Posted April 29, 2015 by neatnik2009 in October 2, Saints of 1870-1879, Saints of 1880-1889, Saints of 1890-1899, Saints of 1900-1909, Saints of 1910-1919, Saints of 1920-1929, Saints of 1930-1939

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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

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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

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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

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