Posted by: rcottrill | January 17, 2010

Today in 1807 – Anne Bronte Born

AGraphic Anne Brontenne Bronte is one of the Bronte sisters, with Charlotte and Emily, a great literary family of eighteenth century England. In spite of their writing careers being severely shortened by ill health, their novels are now considered classics of English literature, especially Jane Eyre (by Charlotte), and Wuthering Heights (by Emily). Anne Bronte is best known for her story The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which some have called the first feminist novel.

Anne Bronte might not be considered a hymn writer, but her poem Eternal Power of Earth and Air is a moving appeal to God for an increase of faith. The poem, worthy of a place in our hymnals, can be sung to the hymn tune Truro. It says in part:

Eternal Power, of earth and air!
Unseen, yet seen in all around,
Remote, but dwelling everywhere,
Though silent, heard in every sound.

If e’er Thine ear in mercy bent,
When wretched mortals cried to Thee,
And if, indeed, Thy Son was sent,
To save lost sinners such as me:

Then hear me now, while, kneeling here,
I lift to Thee my heart and eye,
And all my soul ascends in prayer,
Oh, give me, give me faith! I cry.

Without some glimmering in my heart,
I could not raise this fervent prayer;
But, oh! a stronger light impart,
And in Thy mercy fix it there.

Oh, help me, God! For Thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve;
Forsake it not: it is Thine own,
Though weak, yet longing to believe.

If I believe that Jesus died,
And, waking, rose to reign above;
Then surely sorrow, sin, and pride,
Must yield to peace, and hope, and love.

Hardly less perceptive and beautiful is her Music on Christmas Morn (which can be sung to the tune Pater Omnium). Those of us who have a special affection for Christmas carols will be able to identify with her theme. Here is part of the song:

Music I love–but ne’er a strain
Could kindle raptures so divine,
So grief assuage, so conquer pain,
And rouse this pensive heart of mine;
As that we hear on Christmas morn,
Upon the wintry breezes borne.

To greet with joy the glorious morn,
Which angels welcomed long ago,
When our redeeming Lord was born,
To bring the light of heaven below;
The powers of darkness to dispel,
And rescue earth from death and hell.

While listening to that sacred strain,
My raptured spirit soars on high;
I seem to hear those songs again
Resounding through the open sky,
That kindled such divine delight,
In those who watched their flocks by night.

With them, I celebrate His birth;
Glory to God, in highest heaven,
Good will to men, and peace on earth,
To us a Saviour King is given;
Our God is come to claim His own,
And Satan’s power is overthrown!

(2) Today in 1892 – The Sands of Time sung
AGraphic Hour Glassnne Ross Cousin’s beautiful hymn The Sands of Time Are Sinking was the favourite of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. And in 1892 it was also sung at the bedside of Charles Spurgeon shortly before he died. (To learn more about this remarkable man, and about a hymn he wrote, see Item #2 at Today in 1784.)

Based on the writings of Scottish clergyman Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), Mrs. Cousin’s song may also hold the distinction of being the longest hymn in the English language. The original was 152 lines long, though most hymn books use only 32 lines. The language is passionate, representing an earnest longing for our heavenly home, mostly because the Lord Jesus Christ is there.

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.


  1. “The Sands of Time” is one of my favorite hymns — all 19 verses. (Is that the 152 lines?)

    And this recording was WONDERFUL!

    • Yep. Looks like 19 x 8 = 152. And glad you enjoyed the recording. (Don’t miss tomorrow’s blog. I think it’s one of my more interesting ones.)

  2. […] work days until the time of his death at the age of 58. (For his deathbed hymn, see Item 2 under Today in 1807.) At his passing 100,000 filed past his coffin to pay their respects, and the two-mile funeral […]

  3. Thanks for the information about “The Sands of Time”. I just now found all 19 verses, and their history. What a connection to the saints that lived before us. I have loved this song from my teens–always felt something moving deeply inside me when I encountered it. I have 8 precious children, and my husband has left me alone, and as I pray for his return, I now reach again for the truths and beauty in this hymn, and to Immanuel Himself. Blessings to you, Rebecca

    • Thanks for the encouragement. Always glad when I can be a blessing to others. God bless.

  4. […] Almost 200 years later, a woman named Anne Ross Cundell Cousin, herself the wife of a Scottish pastor, immortalized those words in a hymn. Mrs. Cousin (1824-1906) not only knew the Scriptures, she was steeped in the life and letters of Samuel Rutherford. Her beautiful hymn, The Sands of Time Are Sinking, reflects this. (For more about this great hymn, see the second item under Today in 1807.) […]


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