Posted by: rcottrill | February 19, 2010

Today in 1802 – Leonard Bacon Born

Leonard Bacon was born in Detroit, where his father was a missionary to the Indians. In childhood, he was a classmate of John Brown, who later became a famous abolitionist. Bacon was educated at Yale and Andover Theological Seminary, then ordained as a pastor in 1825, serving a church in New Haven Connecticut for 41 years. He was appointed Professor of Theology at Yale, and lectured on Church Polity.

Leonard Bacon had an interest in hymnody, and was both a writer and compiler of hymns. Only one of his songs is still found in some books today, the national hymn O God, Beneath Thy Guiding Hand.

O God, beneath Thy guiding hand
Our exiled fathers crossed the sea;
And when they trod the wintry strand,
With prayer and psalm they worshipped Thee.

Thou heard’st, well pleased, the song, the prayer:
Thy blessing came; and still its power
Shall onward, through all ages, bear
The memory of that holy hour.

(2) Today in 1821 – James Walton Born
Little is known of English composer James George Walton, other than the dates of his birth and death (in September of 1905), and the fact that he edited a book in 1874 called Plain Song Music for the Holy Communion Office. In that volume is found a adaptation of Henry Hemi’s tune St. Catherine, Virgin and Martyr (now simply called St. Catherine). It is a fine tune, used today with the hymns Faith of Our Fathers, and Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me.

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach, no tongue declare;
O, knit my thankful heart with Thee
And reign without a rival there.
Thine wholly, Thine alone I am;
Be thou alone my constant flame.

(3) Today in 1973 – Claudia Mays Died
Claudia Faustina Lehman Mays was the daughter of American pastor Frederich Martin Lehman. She wrote the harmony for many of her father’s songs, including There’s No Disappointment in Heaven (see second item under Today in 1867), and The Love of God (see Today in 1868). (In the latter hymn, “the guilty pair” is, of course, a reference to Adam and Eve, to whom God gave the very first hint of a coming Saviour in Gen. 3:15.)

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.


  1. […] Jesu Christ, Mein Schöstes Licht (O Jesus Christ, My Beautiful Light).  The tune commonly used is St. Catherine. In the song Gerhardt extols the love of Christ, responding to it with a great and holy passion. […]

  2. […] hundreds of songs, but this is by far his best known. As the Cyber Hymnal notes, his daughter Claudia Lehman Mays arranged the music for his songs, including this […]


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