Posted by: rcottrill | January 6, 2010

Today in 1740 – John Fawcett Born

English pastor and hymn writer John Fawcett was converted to Christ at the age of 16, through the ministry of George Whitefield. He first joined the Methodists (some say the Anglicans), but three years later began attending a Baptist church and was eventually ordained by that group. Though he remained the pastor of a small church, he was a man of recognized scholarship and ability. Fawcett wrote a number of books, and several of our hymns, including Blest Be the Tie that Binds, How Precious Is the Book Divine, and possibly Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing.

Pastor Fawcett made the following quaint comment regarding his hymns:

I blush to think of these plain verses falling into the hands of persons of an elevated genius, and refined taste. To such, I know, they will appear flat, dull and unentertaining…If it may be conducive, under divine blessing to warm the heart or assist the devotion of any humble Christian in the closet [i.e. alone in his room], the family or the house of God, I shall therein sincerely rejoice, whatever censure I may incur from the polite world.

How precious is the book divine,
By inspiration giv’n;
Bright as a lamp its pages shine
To guide our souls to heav’n.
Its light descending from above,
Our gloomy world to cheer,
Displays a Saviour’s boundless love,
And brings His glories near.

Oh precious book of light and life
Thou source of truth and love,
In Thee we view God’s matchless grace,
And all His goodness prove,
Oh precious book whose light e’er shines
With bright and cheering ray,
To guide our souls until the dawn
Of the eternal day.

(2) Today in 1887 – Virgil Brock Born
There have been several husband and wife hymn writing teams through history, and this is about one of them. Brock was born to Quaker parents. He was converted at the age of 16, and was ordained a clergyman of the Christian Church at age 19. In 1914, while Virgil Brock was serving in Greens Fork, Indiana, he met and married a talented singer and pianist named Blanche Kerr. They became known far and wide in evangelistic ministry as The Singing Brocks. Virgil Brock wrote more than 500 gospel songs, with Blanche composing the music for most of them.

The picture to the right came from a friend of my wife’s. By a little camera trick, it looks as though someone is able to hold the sun between his fingers. But we know that’s not possible. Our sun is actually a star, many times the size of the earth. But at a distance of 93 million miles, it appears quite small. And looking at the picture, I’m reminded of how the troubles of today can loom large in proportion to the eternal joys of heaven. But for the believer a glorious eternal day is awaiting beyond the sunset of this life. That sunset became the theme of a popular gospel song by the Brocks. The writing of it came about as follows.

One day the Brocks were visiting in the home of gospel musician Homer Rodeheaver. The house offered a perfect view of the western sky, and all were entranced by the incredible sunset that evening. The heavens seemed, in Brock’s words, to be “ablaze with the glory of God.” Afterward, at the dinner table, the beautiful display became a topic of conversation. Seated among the guests was a blind man named Horace Burr, Virgil Brock’s cousin.

Mr. Burr stated that he had never “seen” a more beautiful sunset–a comment which surprised his companions. But he responded, “I see through other people’s eyes, and I think I often see more. I see beyond the sunset.” The phrase struck Pastor Brock and he immediately began singing the first phrases of a new hymn. At the suggestion of his wife, the couple went to the piano and, he says, “Before the evening meal was finished, all four stanzas had been written, and we sang the entire song together.”

Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning,
When with our Saviour, heav’n is begun;
Earth’s toiling ended, O glorious dawning–
Beyond the sunset when day is done.

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion
With our dear loved ones who’ve gone before;
In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting–
Beyond the sunset forevermore.

Here is a Country version of the song that I think is nicely done.


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