Posted by: rcottrill | April 5, 2010

Today in 1830 Alexander Muir Born

AGraphic Canadian Flag2lexander Muir was born in Scotland, but in later years he became a well known Canadian educator. The family moved to Canada when he was a child, and he earned his B.A. at Queens University, in Kingston. He then taught school, mainly in the Toronto area. Several schools in Ontario have been named in his honour. He was a prominent Orangeman. (The Orange Order is a Protestant fraternal organization.)

In 1867, Muir composed the song The Maple Leaf Forever, in honour of Confederation, which officially formed the Dominion of Canada. Though there is a vague prayer being offered in the refrain, it can hardly be classed as a hymn in the recognized sense.  It is more of a jingoistic bellow, in defense of British imperialism, that sounds strange to our “politically correct” ears today. But in its time, when many Canadians felt strong ties to Britain, it was thought of as a fervent national hymn.

In days of yore, from Britain’s shore,
Wolfe, the dauntless hero, came
And planted firm Britannia’s flag
On Canada’s fair domain!
Here may it wave, our boast, our pride,
And join in love together,
The Thistle, Shamrock, Rose entwine,
The Maple Leaf forever.

The Maple Leaf, our emblem dear,
The Maple Leaf forever!
God save the King and heaven bless
The Maple Leaf forever!

Our fair Dominion now extends
From Cape Race to Nootka Sound;
May peace forever be our lot
And plenteous store abound;
And may those ties of love be ours
Which discord cannot sever,
And flourish green o’er freedom’s home
The Maple Leaf forever.

(2) Today in 1850 – Daniel Towner Born
Born in Rome, Pennsylvania, Daniel Brink Towner studied music first under his father, then under several prominent musicians of the day. Towner had an excellent baritone voice, and was a fine song leader. He served as director of music in several Methodist churches in America, and became director of music at Moody Bible Institute. He was awarded a Doctor of Music degree in 1900. George Stebbins said of him:

Through his teaching [at Moody] and personal contact, he impressed himself upon thousands of young men and women, who have gone out from that institution more or less imbued with the spirit of consecration he ever manifested, and with increased knowledge of the importance of music in all kinds of Christian activities.

Mr. Towner wrote over 2,000 gospel song tunes, including those for:

Anywhere with Jesus
At Calvary
He’s a Friend of Mine
Jesus Only, Let Me See
My Anchor Holds
Nor Silver Nor Gold
Only a Sinner
Saved by the Blood
Trust and Obey

Years ago, I worked in a commercial advertising firm. On one occasion we were called upon to build a booth for a trade fair. I went to the location, along with Art Rogers, an older man on our staff. Art was a former pro ball player who’d lived a pretty crude, rough life. But God had done a transforming work of grace in his life and he’d become a godly Christian gentleman.

On this particular day, a couple of electricians were called in to hook up the electrical connections for the booth, and I cringed at the foul language that regularly punctuated their conversation. Finally, Art said, with a smile, “I see you know a friend of mine.” Needless to say, they were puzzled. What friend of his could the two strangers possibly know? But of course Art was speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he proceeded to give his testimony of what the Lord had done for him, graciously requesting that they respect Christ’s name, because “He’s a friend of mine.”

I thought of the incident in connection with the following hymn. John Henry Sammis wrote it on that subject, and Daniel Towner set it to music.

Why should I charge my soul with care?
The wealth of every mine
Belongs to Christ, God’s Son and Heir,
And He’s a Friend of mine.

Yes, He’s a Friend of mine,
And He with me doth all things share;
Since all is Christ’s, and Christ is mine,
Why should I have a care?
For Jesus is a Friend of mine.

And when he comes in bright array,
And leads the conqu’ring line,
It will be glory then to say,
That He’s a Friend of mine.

And here’s another song for which Daniel Towner supplied the tune. A spirited gospel song written by S. J. Henderson–a man about whom nothing is known but his name. But his song is rich in Christian doctrine.

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
Now ransomed from sin and a new work begun,
Sing praise to the Father and praise to the Son,
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
I am saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
The angels rejoicing because it is done;
A child of the Father, joint heir with the Son,
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
The Father He spake, and His will it was done;
Great price of my pardon, His own precious Son;
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!


  1. […] One day in 1895, on his way to teach a class at Moody Bible Institute, Newell was meditating on the sufferings of Christ. On a sudden inspiration, he stepped into an empty classroom, and jotted down some simple lines of poetry on that theme. Then, continuing on his way down the corridor, he came upon Daniel Towner, the Institute’s Director of Music. He passed the new poem to the other man, suggesting maybe he could provide a tune for it. By the conclusion of Dr. Newell’s lecture, the work had been done, and the two men sang the hymn, At Calvary, for the first time. (For more on Daniel Towner, see the second item under Today in 1830.) […]

  2. […] composer of the tune of the above song is Daniel Towner. Less common still is Pastor Sammis’s song We Know Not […]


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