Posted by: rcottrill | April 16, 2010

Today in 1829 – Carl Glaser Died

Carl Gotthelf Glaser was born in Germany, where he received musical training, first from his father, then from others. He became a teacher of voice, violin and piano. Glaser also composed choral music and was a well known conductor. His hymn tune Azmon is used with O for a Thousand Tongues. (For more about this hymn’s author, Charles Wesley, see the second item under Today in 1726.)

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honours of Thy name.

(2) Today in 1905 – Ada Gibbs Died
Little is know of Ada Rose Gibbs. She was apparently part of the Keswick Convention moment. She married William James Gibbs around 1898, in London. He was at one time superintendent of the Methodist Central Hall, in Bromley, Kent. Mrs. Gibbs composed the tune that is used for the hymn Channels Only.

How I praise Thee, precious Saviour,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.

Channels only, blessèd Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.

(3) Today in 1796 – Joseph Swain Died
Englishman Joseph Swain (1761-1796) was apprenticed to be an engraver when he was young. He later moved to London, where he put his faith in Christ, and was baptized by Pastor John Rippon. The latter is known in hymn history for his book Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors (which included How Firm a Foundation). Joseph Swain himself went on to become a Baptist clergyman, and a hymn writer. Some historians state that he died on this date at the young age of 35. Others place the date of his death two days earlier.

The most familiar of his songs is the beautiful O Thou in Whose Presence, which borrows the poetry of the Song of Solomon to describe his love for the Lord. The original has eighteen stanzas. Here is a sampling.

O Thou in whose presence my soul takes delight,
On whom in affliction I call,
My comfort by day, and my song in the night,
My hope, my salvation, my all.

O, why should I wander an alien from Thee,
And cry in the desert for bread?
Thy foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see,
And smile at the tears I have shed.

His lips as a fountain of righteousness flow,
That waters the garden of grace,
From which their salvation the Gentiles shall know,
And bask in the smiles of His face.

Love sits on His eye-lids, and scatters delight
Through all the bright mansions on high;
Their faces the cherubim veil in His sight,
And tremble with fullness of joy.

He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for His word;
He speaks, and eternity, filled with His voice,
Re-echoes the praise of her Lord.

Dear Shepherd, I hear and will follow Thy call;
I know the sweet sound of Thy voice.
Restore and defend me, for Thou art my All,
And in Thee I will ever rejoice.

Joseph Swain’s hymn How Sweet, How Heavenly Is the Sight is much less known. But it has a message for every local church. The author revels in the blessing of Christian fellowship, and the expression of Christlike love in the community of believers. The Bible says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133:1). Yet so many times there are conflicts and petty rivalries in our churches that are most unchristian. The Apostle Paul had to deal sternly with the church at Corinth over this issue (I Cor. 3:1-3).

How sweet, how heavenly is the sight,
When those that love the Lord
In one another’s peace delight,
And so fulfil His Word!

When each can feel his brother’s sigh
And with him bear a part!
When sorrow flows from eye to eye,
And joy from heart to heart!

When, free from envy, scorn, and pride,
Our wishes all above,
Each can his brother’s failings hide,
And show a brother’s love!

When love, in one delightful stream,
Through every bosom flows,
When union sweet, and dear esteem,
In every action glows.


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