Posted by: rcottrill | January 28, 2010

Today in 1834 – Sabine Baring-Gould Born

Sabine Baring-Gould was brilliant–though sometimes eccentric. He was a kind of Renaissance man who dabbled in many things and did them well. Born into the English upper class, he mastered six languages, and became an Anglican clergyman at the age of 30. He wrote over 100 books, including 30 novels, and a 16-volume work called Lives of the Saints. He was also known as an architect, an archeologist, an artist, a collector of English folk songs, and a teacher. (Apparently, he sometimes taught classes with his pet bat perched on his shoulder!)

John H. Parker’s recent book Abide With Me (New Leaf Press, 2009), tells us that Sabine Baring Gould fell in love with a beautiful mill worker named Grace Taylor. But, before he would consider marrying her, so she would fit into upper class society, he sent her to school to learn to pronounce English properly. George Bernard Shaw used Baring-Gould and Grace Taylor as models for his characters Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle in his play Pygmalion (which later became the musical My Fair Lady).

Two of the hymns of Sabine Baring-Gould have remained in use: Onward Christian Soldiers, and a lovely evening hymn called Now the Day Is Over.

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh,
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.

Jesus, give the weary
Calm and sweet repose;
With Thy tenderest blessing
May mine eyelids close.

Grant to little children
Visions bright of Thee;
Guard the sailors tossing
On the deep, blue sea.

Comfort those who suffer,
Watching late in pain;
Those who plan some evil
From their sin restrain.

Through the long night watches
May Thine angels spread
Their white wings above me,
Watching round my bed.

When the morning wakens,
Then may I arise
Pure, and fresh, and sinless
In Thy holy eyes.

Here is an interesting version of this hymn: a men’s “quartet,” which is actually one singer in a multi-track recording. Not professional, but nicely done.

2) Today in 1896 – Joseph Barnby Died
Joseph Barnby was an acclaimed composer, conductor and organist in nineteenth century England. From his early teens, he was an outstanding choirmaster and he served as an organist in four London churches. Mr. Barnby was knighted in 1892. He edited several hymnals, and wrote 246 hymn tunes. Among the latter are Sandringham, for the hymn O Perfect Love, Merrial, for the above hymn (Now the Day Is Over), and Laudes Domini for When Morning Gilds the Skies. For more on the latter hymn, see Today in 1814.

When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!


  1. […] (2) Today in 1867 – Now the Day Is Over published English clergyman Sabine Baring-Gould is best known as the author of the hymn Onward, Christian Soldiers. However, he did write others. Among them is a lovely evening hymn called Now the Day Is Over (see also Today in 1834). […]

  2. […] One of Edward Caswell’s best known translations is of the eighteenth century German hymn Beim Fruhen Morgenlicht (meaning The Early Morning Light).  Originally known in English as “A Christian Greeting,” it is now called When Morning Gilds the Skies. The tune was written by Joseph Barnby. […]

  3. […] (2) Today in 1864 – Onward Christian Soldiers published Sabine Baring-Gould was an English clergyman and author in the nineteenth century. The many books he wrote cover an astonishing range of subjects–religion and theology, travel, folklore and mythology, history, fiction, and collected sermons. In addition, he edited a quarterly publication on ecclesiastical art and literature. He is also recognized in Grove’s Dictionary for his work in collecting English folk songs. Baring-Gould is described by contemporary James Moffatt as “a man of extraordinary range of interests, and of inexhaustible versatility and industry.” He lived to the age of 90. (For more on this fascinating man, see Today in 1834.) […]


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