Posted by: rcottrill | March 18, 2010

Today in 1805 – George Bethune Born

George Washington Bethune was a Dutch Reformed pastor in the United States. When he was 45, he was offered the post of chancellor of New York University, and then the provostship of the University of Pennsylvania, both of which he turned down, declaring that he had been “called to the ministry.” He wrote a number of books, and quite a few hymns, but only There Is No Name So Sweet on Earth remains in use.

There is no name so sweet on earth,
No name so sweet in heaven,
The name, before His wondrous birth
To Christ the Saviour given.

We love to sing of Christ our King,
And hail Him, blessèd Jesus;
For there’s no word ear ever heard
So dear, so sweet as “Jesus.”

So now, upon His Father’s throne,
Almighty to release us
From sin and pain, He gladly reigns,
The Prince and Saviour, Jesus.

(2) Today in 1819 – John Bakewell Died
We know that preacher and hymn writer John Bakewell trusted Christ as his Saviour at the age of 19, but of his earlier life little is recorded. When he moved to London, he became a friend of John and Charles Wesley, and of Augustus Toplady (author of Rock of Ages). John Wesley dined in his home on Bakewell’s wedding day, and was given a tour of the house. Wesley’s stern evaluation, “Fine enough, in all conscience, for a Methodist!” John Bakewell was licenced to preach by the Methodists, and proclaimed the Word of God for about 70 years, dying at the advanced age of 98.

Only one of Mr. Bakewell’s several hymns remains in common use, Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus. The hymn was later revised by Augustus Toplady to bring it into conformity with Calvinist doctrine. What we have now is the combined work of Bakewell, Toplady and a man named Martin Madan. (For a bit more on the strange views of Mr. Madan, see Today in 1790.)

Hail, Thou once despisèd Jesus! Hail, Thou Galilean King!
Thou didst suffer to release us; Thou didst free salvation bring.
Hail, Thou universal Saviour, who hast borne our sin and shame!
By Thy merits we find favour; life is given through Thy name.

Jesus, hail! enthroned in glory, there forever to abide;
All the heavenly hosts adore Thee, seated at Thy Father’s side.
There for sinners Thou art pleading; there Thou dost our place prepare;
Thou for saints art interceding till in glory they appear.

(3) Today in 1831 – Robert Walmsley Born
Englishman Robert Walmsley was a jeweler by profession, but he also wrote some hymns. As a Christian layman he was connected for 28 years with the Manchester Sunday School Union, and many of his hymns were written for the annual Whitsuntide Festival (Whitsunday recognizes Pentecost and the birth of the church). The one hymn that remains of Walmsley’s is Come, Let Us Sing of a Wonderful Love.

Come, let us sing of a wonderful love,
Tender and true, tender and true,
Out of the heart of the Father above,
Streaming to me and to you:
Wonderful love, wonderful love,
Dwells in the heart of the Father above.

Jesus the Saviour this gospel to tell
Joyfully came, joyfully came,
Came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,
Sharing their sorrow and shame:
Seeking the lost, seeking the lost,
Saving, redeeming at measureless cost.


  1. […] he originated few hymns himself, but added stanzas of his own to the work of others, including Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus, and Lo He Comes With Clouds. His 1760 book A Collection of Psalms and Hymns Extracted from Various […]

  2. […] 1778) Music: Autumn, by Francois Hippolyte Barthelemon (b. July 27, 1741; d. July 23, 1808) Links: Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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