English composer William Gardiner was born in Leicester. At the age of 6 he sang a solo at the wedding of his friend’s father. He learned to play the piano and the viola, and as a teen-ager wrote a march for the British troops returning from the American Revolutionary War. He was an admirer of Beethoven and Haydn. In 1843, the became a member of the Historical Institute in Paris.
Mr. Gardiner has left us two or three hymn tunes, including the lovely Belmont, which works well with God Moves in a Mysterious Way, and The Lord’s My Shepherd.
The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
My soul He doth restore again;
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
Even for His own name’s sake.
The tune Belomont is used as well with Reginald Heber’s By Cool Siloam’s Shady Rill. You can check out the latter hymn on the Cyber Hymnal. Or here is a lovely version by famed Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar (followed in the video clip by his reverent renditions of Speak No Sinful Action, and God Be in My Head).
(2) Today in 1824 – Stand Up and Bless the Lord written
Scottish hymn writer James Montgomery was the son of a Moravian clergyman. He wrote more than 400 hymns, quite a number of which are still in use. (For a list of a few of these, see Today in 1816.) Montgomery’s hymn, Stand Up and Bless the Lord, was produced on this date in in 1824 for the anniversary celebration of the Red Hill Wesleyan Sunday School, in Sheffield, England.
Stand up and bless the Lord
Ye people of His choice;
Stand up and bless the Lord your God
With heart and soul and voice.
God is our strength and song,
And His salvation ours;
Then be His love in Christ proclaimed
With all our ransomed powers.
(3) Today in 1859 – Henry Zelley Born
A gospel song on the theme of sunlight was written in 1899 by Henry Jeffreys Zelley (1859-1942). Pastor Zelley faithfully served the Lord, during a ministry over fifty years long. He was considered an exceptional Bible scholar, and his spare time was spent writing poetry.
On one occasion a man named George Harrison Cook brought the pastor a tune, asking if the latter could write some appropriate words for it. Cook was involved in a lifelong ministry of music, singing, playing, composing, and training other musicians. It was not the only collaboration of Zelley and Cook, but this one produced Heavenly Sunlight. A scholar he may have been, but the simple truth of Henry Zelley’s hymn is within the grasp of all.
Walking in sunlight all of my journey;
Over the mountains, through the deep vale;
Jesus has said, “I’ll never forsake thee,”
Promise divine that never can fail.
Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.
Shadows around me, shadows above me,
Never conceal my Saviour and Guide;
He is the light, in Him is no darkness;
Ever I’m walking close to His side.
In 1942 Charles E. Fuller, who founded the Old Fashioned Revival Hour radio broadcast in 1925, adapted the song’s refrain for use on its own. Heavenly Sunshine became a widely popular little chorus four decades after the hymn was written.
Here is a video clip of the winner of the Children’s Piano Hymn Competition, in Korea, giving us a skilful rendering of Henry Zelley’s song.