Posted by: rcottrill | September 19, 2010

Today in 1900 – Clarence Walworth Died

Clarence Alphonsus Walworth graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York. His early intention was to become a lawyer, but in the end he chose the Roman Catholic priesthood instead. He is known in hymnody only for his translation of the hymn Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.

The original  of this hymn is attributed to hymnologist and compiler Ignaz Franz, and dates from 1774, with Walworth’s translation coming nearly two centuries later. It is a great Trinitarian hymn of praise, which says in part:

Holy God, we praise Thy name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy sceptre claim,
All in heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we sing our praise to Thee.

(2) Today in 1954 – John Arkwright Died Graphic Military Cemetery
John Stanhope Arkwright published an Armistice Day hymn in 1919, at the end of the First World War. (This date, November 11th, has since been set aside to honour the military. It is called Remembrance Day in Canada, Veteran’s Day in the United States.)  Arkwright was a barrister, a member of Parliament, and the Chief Steward of the city of Hereford in England. He was knighted in 1934. His hymn appeared in a book of poems he entitled The Supreme Sacrifice and Other Poems in Time of War, and it is called O Valiant Hearts.

O valiant hearts who to your glory came
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

Proudly you gathered, rank on rank, to war
As who had heard Gods message from afar;
All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave,
To save mankind—yourselves you scorned to save.

Splendid you passed, the great surrender made;
Into the light that nevermore shall fade;
Deep your contentment in that blest abode,
Who wait the last clear trumpet call of God.

Long years ago, as earth lay dark and still,
Rose a loud cry upon a lonely hill,
While in the frailty of our human clay,
Christ, our Redeemer, passed the self same way.

Still stands His cross from that dread hour to this,
Like some bright star above the dark abyss;
Still, through the veil, the Victor’s pitying eyes
Look down to bless our lesser Calvaries.

These were His servants, in His steps they trod,
Following through death the martyred Son of God:
Victor, He rose; victorious too shall rise
They who have drunk His cup of sacrifice.

O risen Lord, O Shepherd of our dead,
Whose cross has bought them and whose staff has led,
In glorious hope their proud and sorrowing land
Commits her children to Thy gracious hand.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss when a war is just, and when it is not. Sufficient to say here that it is fitting to honour, as this selection does, those who willingly laid their lives on the line to defend principles they believed in. Having said that, it is far too bold to draw a parallel between all such human conflicts and the work of Christ on Calvary, as the hymn tries to do (let alone its erroneous implication that all soldiers go to heaven when they die!). However, I appreciate the sentiment, focusing as it does on the principle of self-sacrifice.The words on the following video are sometimes difficult to pick up, so I have included the entire text above.

 


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