Rhabanus Maurus was educated in France, and became the director of the Benedictine school at Fulda, Germany. He was ordained in 814 and went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He served as abbot at Fulda for 20 years, and was later appointed archbishop of Mainz.
Many hymns are credited to Rhabanus Maurus, including Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire. This English version by John Cosin comes from the Latin hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, Creator Spirit), attributed to Maurus. Bishop Cosin produced it for the coronation of Charles I in 1625, at which he officiated. The hymn is strongly Trinitarian, and the “sevenfold gifts” mentioned are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They come from Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah (with piety, or holiness, added to the list).
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. (Isa. 11:2)
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire;
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost Thy sev’nfold gifts impart.
Praise to Thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And Thee, of both, to be but One;
That through the ages all along
This, this may be our endless song.
(2) Today in 1873 George Bennard Born
The crucifixion of Christ was not an ignominious defeat, but an eternal and infinite victory. Jesus’ cry, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30), was not one of baffled disappointment, but an announcement that His mission was complete. He had said, “The Son of Man [came] to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Now it was done. The debt of sin had been paid. What looked like a shameful end would become a glorious new beginning for all who would trust in Him.
Those ideas led to the creation of one of the most popular hymns ever written. The author is George Bennard (1873-1958). George was only sixteen years old when his father died, leaving him to be the “man of the house” for his mother and four sisters. That seemed to instill in him a sense of responsibility, and a marked dependability in whatever he put his hand to. Later, George Bennard entered the Christian ministry. He wrote many hymns, but he is known for one in particular.
As with many of our hymns, this one was given birth during a time of great trial in the author’s life. He does not reveal what it was, but says he gave himself to prayer, and out of his hours of meditation his attention turned in a special way to the cross of Christ. It was a place of “suffering and shame,” an object “despised by the world.” Yet he says:
“I saw the Christ of the cross as if I were seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form and act out the meaning of redemption. The more I contemplated these truths the more convinced I became that the cross was far more than just a religious symbol, but rather the very heart of the gospel.”
In the glow of that truth George Bennard penned The Old Rugged Cross in 1913.
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
(3) Today in 1874 – Take My Life and Let It Be written
English hymn writer Frances Ridley Havergal went to visit some friends for a few days in 1874, and she says:
There were ten persons in the house; some unconverted and long prayed-for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. I prayed ‘Lord, give me all in this house’ [meaning give me an opportunity to minister to each one here]. He just did! Before I left the house, everyone had got a blessing. The last night of my visit I was too happy to sleep.
Frances passed the night reaffirming her own dedication to the Lord. Also, during those hours, the Lord gave her the words of the hymn Take My Life and Let It Be.
Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.
(For a list of a few of the hymns contributed by this great hymn writer, see the first item under Today in 1929.)
(4) Today in 1901 – Warren Cornell Died
Warren D. Cornell was a Methodist Episcopal pastor in the United States. In 1880 he married Jennie Roberts, and the couple had five children, a boy and four girls.
The one hymn for which Pastor Cornell is known is Wonderful Peace. It was written at a Methodist camp meeting near West Bend, Wisconsin. And, in truth, credit for the words of the song must also be given to the composer of the tune, George Cooper. Warren Cornell was sitting in the meeting tent, meditating on the peace of God. He took a piece of paper and jotted down some ideas that came to him regarding the subject. But when he got up to leave the tent, he was unaware that his notes fell to the floor. They were discovered later by Mr. Cooper, who fleshed out the poetry of the words, and added a tune.
Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll!