Posted by: rcottrill | February 22, 2010

Today in 1805 – Sarah Adams Born

Sarah Fuller Flower was the daughter of British journalist and politician Benjamin Flower. She married an inventor and civil engineer named John Adams, working as a actress for a time, and receiving popular acclaim for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in 1837. She is described in accounts of the day as being “tall and singularly beautiful.” But her stage career was cut short by ill health, and she turned to writing. She died in 1848 of tuberculosis.

In 1841, Sarah Adams published Vivia Perpetua, a dramatic poem about an early Christian martyr. (Perpetua’s courage and nobility in the face of death are powerfully described in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.) Mrs. Adams also wrote magazine articles and a number of hymns. One of her devotional poems says in part:

He sendeth sun, He sendeth shower,
Alike they’re needful for the flower:
And joys and tears alike are sent
To give the soul fit nourishment.
As comes to me or cloud or sun,
Father! Thy will, not mine, be done!
Can loving children e’er reprove
With murmurs whom they trust and love?
Creator! I would ever be
A trusting, loving child to Thee.

Sarah Flower Adams was a lifelong Unitarian. But her most famous hymn, Nearer, My God, to Thee, is found in orthodox and evangelical hymnals throughout the English speaking world. (For the association of this hymn with the sinking of the Titanic, see the third item under Today in 1846.) Mrs. Adams wrote it at the request of her pastor to go with a message he planned on Jacob’s encounter with God recorded in Genesis 28:10-16.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

When you sing this hymn, I encourage you to add the stanza written by Edward Bickersteth. It gives the song a stronger finish, reflecting our hope in Christ as it does.

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Saviour’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

(2) Today in 1822 – George Heath Died
English clergyman George Heath was born in 1745. He was apparently Unitarian in his beliefs (They deny the deity of Christ.). Yet he somehow became the pastor of a Presbyterian church! He was later “proven unworthy,” and was dismissed “for cause.” One would expect that it was a doctrinal issue. Mr. Heath, has, however, given the world an excellent hymn, a challenge to the Christian soldier entitled, My Soul, Be on Thy Guard.

My soul, be on thy guard;
Ten thousand foes arise;
The hosts of sin are pressing hard
To draw thee from the skies.

O watch, and fight, and pray;
The battle ne’er give o’er;
Renew it boldly every day,
And help divine implore.

Ne’er think the victory won,
Nor lay thine armour down;
The work of faith will not be done,
Till thou obtain the crown.


Responses

  1. […] hymn was either weak, or its thought incomplete. He did this with both Lead, Kindly Light, and Nearer, My God, to Thee. Two hymns of his own creation are Saviour, Breathe an Evening Blessing, and Till He Come (a lovely […]

  2. […] (3) Today in 1912 – Nearer, My God, to Thee played Based on the report of a Canadian passenger, it is a persistent claim, whether true or not, that Nearer My God to Thee was played and sung as the now famous Titanic sank with a loss of hundreds of lives. (For the story of the writing of this well-known hymn, see Today in 1805.) […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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