Posted by: rcottrill | April 9, 2010

Today in 1598 – Johann Cruger Born

Johann Cruger was born near Guben, Prussia. He settled in Berlin in 1615, where he became organist and cantor of St. Nicholas Cathedral. He is considered one of the foremost musicians of his day, and his work in editing Praxis Pietatis Melica (The Practice of Piety Through Melody) has been called the most important work on the subject of hymnody produced in the seventeenth century. In the third edition of this book, the hymn tune Nun Danket appeared. It is used with Martin Rinkart’s hymn Now Thank We All Our God. (For the interesting story behind this hymn see Today in 1649.)

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

(2) Today in 1813 – Jane Borthwick Born
A member of the Free Church of Scotland, Jane Laurie Borthwick was a gifted translator. She and her sister Sarah produced a book of translations of German hymns entitled Hymns from the Land of Luther. Their work has given us My Jesus, As Thou Wilt, and Be Still, My Soul. The former hymn, in German Mein Jesu, Wie du Willt, was written by Benjamin Schmolk around 1704.

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! Oh, may Thy will be mine!
Into Thy hand of love I would my all resign;
Through sorrow, or through joy, conduct me as Thine own,
And help me still to say, my Lord, Thy will be done!

My Jesus, as Thou wilt! Though seen through many a tear,
Let not my star of hope grow dim or disappear;
Since Thou on earth hast wept, and sorrowed oft alone,
If I must weep with Thee, my Lord, Thy will be done!

Here is a nicely done guitar solo of the tune for the above hymn.

In my opinion, Be Still, My Soul ranks as one of the finest hymns in the English language. For more about this hymn, see Today in 1697.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

(3) Today in 1830 – Joseph Parker Born
EGraphic Keynglish clergyman Joseph Parker was one of the foremost evangelical preachers of his day. A contemporary of Spurgeon’s, he became the champion of the poor, uneducated and underprivileged.

He wrote a number of books, and his sermons of many years fill 25 large volumes. Parker was not a hymn writer, but he has given us one perceptive song entitled God Holds the Key.

God holds the key of all unknown,
And I am glad;
If other hands should hold the key,
Or if He trusted it to me,
I might be sad, I might be sad.

The very dimness of my sight
Makes me secure;
For, groping in my misty way,
I feel His hand; I hear Him say,
“My help is sure, My help is sure.”


  1. Joseph Parker may not have been a hymn writer, but his poem “God Holds the Key” has been used by God to keep my heart steady through a number of difficult situations. It would have been good if you had cited verse 5 which sums everything up. I have never seen this in an American hymnal, byt was introduced to it through the use of The Keswick Hymn Book that was used in Overseas Missionary Fellowship when my wife and I joined many years ago.

    • Thanks for your comments, and I agree about the significance of the final stanza of the hymn. This is one of the hymns on my list to write a fuller article on. If the Lord spares me, that likely will happen within the next six months. The articles I’m working on now double as newspaper columns, but I adjust them somewhat for the blog where I don’t have the same space constraints. God bless.


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