Posted by: rcottrill | January 5, 2010

Today in 1910 – Timothy Matthews Died

Englishman Timothy Richard Matthews was educated at Cambridge, and became an Anglican clergyman in 1853, retiring 54 years later after a full life of ministry. Rev. Matthews also studied organ under George Elvey, and the two men became lifelong friends. As a musician, Timothy Matthew wrote more than 100 hymn tunes, but only one is in wide use today. He wrote the tune Margaret to go with Emily Elliot’s hymn poem Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne. (Some hymn books call the tune Elliot in her honour.) For a bit more about Emily Elliot and her hymn, see Today in 1836.

This song is more of a meditation on the incarnation than a true Christmas carol, though it’s rightly sung at that season of the year. Emily Elliot describes the humble birth of the Saviour, and notes that there was no room for Him in the inn of Bethlehem–and how many later made no room for Him in their lives. In fact, they crucified Him, as the hymn’s third stanza reminds us. Then comes the powerful application: When Christ comes again, will He make room for me at His side? A change in the refrain ends the hymn with a positive testimony:

When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”

My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

(2) Today in 1915 – Vernon Charlesworth Died
English hymn writer Vernon John Charlesworth wrote a number of gospel songs, but A Shelter in the Time of Storm is the only one in common use today. Mr. Charlesworth served the Lord as a co-pastor of the old Surrey Chapel. Five years later, he was appointed headmaster of Charles Spurgeon’s Stockwell Orphanage.

Vernon Charlesworth’s gospel song celebrates our safety and security in Christ. And there are quite a number of texts in the Word of God, especially in the Psalms, that remind us of the Almighty’s protecting care (cf. Ps. 18:2; 59:16; 62:2). When Ira Sankey set Charlesworth’s hymn to music, it was he who added the refrain. Sankey gave the song the rather unwieldy title My God Is the Rock of My Refuge, referencing the text Ps. 94:22, “The Lord has been my defense, And my God the rock of my refuge.”  We know it by the simpler title above.

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A shelter in the time of storm.

Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our helper ever near,
A shelter in the time of storm.


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  1. […] Wordwise Hymns (Vernon Charlesworth, and Ira Sankey) The Cyber […]


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