Posted by: rcottrill | January 4, 2010

Today in 1874 – Standing at the Portal published

Frances Ridley Havergal was in the habit of sending New Year’s cards, rather than Christmas cards. And, being a skilled devotional poet, she wrote the verses they contained herself. One of these that has become a hymn is Another Year Is Dawning (see Today in 1836). And if you were a friend of hers in 1874, you would have received a card containing the hymn poem, Standing at the Portal. Note how the second stanza below contains virtually a word by word quotation of Isa. 41:10, which says:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Standing at the portal of the opening year,
Words of comfort meet us, hushing every fear;
Spoken through the silence by our Saviour’s voice,
Tender, strong and faithful, making us rejoice.

Onward, then, and fear not,
Children of the day;
For His Word shall never,
Never pass away.

“I, the Lord, am with thee, be thou not afraid;
I will help and strengthen, be thou not dismayed.
Yea, I will uphold thee with My own right hand;
Thou art called and chosen in My sight to stand.”

(2) Today in 1919 Matilda Edwards Died
EGraphic Candlenglish hymn writer Matilda Barbara Betham-Edwards has given us a lovely children’s prayer hymn. Though she wrote other poetry, and a number of books, God Make My Life a Little Light is the only hymn for which she is known today. It was published in a magazine called Good Words, in 1873. And whether we are children, teens, or adults, that is what the Lord asks of us. We are to “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). In the words of the Lord Jesus,

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)

God make my life a little light
Within the world to glow;
A little flame that burneth bright,
Wherever I may go.

God make my life a little song
That comforteth the sad
That helpeth others to be strong,
And makes the singer glad.

God make my life a little staff
Whereon the weak may rest,
That so what health and strength I have
May serve my neighbours best.


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    • You’re most welcome. Drop by any time!

  2. […] Frances Ridley Havergal, the great English hymn writer, used to send New Year’s cards, rather than Christmas cards. And she wrote her own verses to include in them. (Wouldn’t you like to have received one of them?) A couple of these poems have become fine New Year’s hymns. I encourage you to take a look, and perhaps use one or both in a church service this year. Both are excellent. One of these, written in 1873, is Standing at the Portal (see Today in 1874). […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  4. I love both of these songs and use them on New Years Sunday in the churches we pastor. I’ve also decided to begin the tradition of writing New Years instead of Christmas (mostly because I can’t get it all in by Christmas but I also like to reflect on the season followed by a newsletter rather than the reverse.) Love hymn stories and biographies of the writers. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comments. Too bad these hymns only get used once a year. They contain a great message. I’m planning to use Another Year Is Dawning, and How Sweet the Hour at our service this Sunday.

  5. Thanks for your note. These songs have a good message. Too bad they only get used once a year. I’m planning to use Another Year Is Dawning, and Fanny Crosby’s How Sweet the Hour, at our service on Sunday. God bless.

  6. […] As Robert Cottrill reminds us at his site, ‘Wordwise Hymns’ […]

    • Thanks for your excellent note. We’re beginning our own service this morning with Frances Havergal’s fine hymn, then singing All the Way My Saviour Leads Me. God’s promise to Abraham was, “I will bless you…and you shall be a blessing” (Gen.12:2). To that end, may we both enjoy God’s richest blessings in the coming year.


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