Posted by: rcottrill | April 25, 2010

Today in 1792 – John Keble Born

Following a brilliant career at Oxford University, Englishman John Keble became an Anglican clergyman. In 1827 he published The Christian Year: Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holy Days Throughout the Year. In 1831, he became professor of poetry at Oxford, and helped lay the foundation for the Oxford Movement. A modest and gentle man, in 1835 he accepted the vicarage at Hursley, and remained in that ministry for the rest of his life.

In the book mentioned above, John Keble has given us the beautiful hymn Sun of My Soul. He entitled it Evening, and printed it with Luke 24:29, “They constrained Him, saying, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And He went in to stay with them.”

Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
O may no earthborn cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.

When the soft dews of kindly sleep
My wearied eyelids gently steep,
Be my last thought, how sweet to rest
Forever on my Saviour’s breast.

Abide with me from morn till eve,
For without Thee I cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I dare not die.

Just ignore the video on the clip below, and listen to the singing of the hymn. For some reason, the camera is focused on the organ, and the organist is doing other things unrelated to the hymn!

(2) Today in 1800 – William Cowper Died
William Cowper (pronounced Cooper) was one of England’s greatest poets, but he was troubled through much of his life with suicidal depression. The Lord finally provided a means of encouraging him and stabilizing his life through the ministry of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace and many other hymns. The two men became friends, and Newton suggested that together they produce a hymn book, with each of the men contributing some songs. The result was the monumental Olney Hymns, published in 1779. Challenged by this project, William Cowper wrote 67 hymns. Among them are:

A Glory Guilds the Sacred Page
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
Jesus, Where’er Thy People Meet
O for a Closer Walk with God
Sometimes a Light Surprises
There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood

For the story behind Cowper’s hymn God Moves in a Mysterious Way, see Today in 1731, and for his hymn O for a Closer Walk with God, see Today in 1769.

I corresponded not long ago with a blogger who objected to the gory imagery in the opening stanza of There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood. But Cowper, who knew his Bible, headed the original Praise for the Fountain Opened, and referenced the prophecy of Zech. 13:1, “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”

Sadly, even some modern Bible versions have tried to paraphrase the text in order to remove references to the blood of Christ as being something distasteful and archaic. “The precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18-19) has become “the costly sacrifice of Christ” (TEV). Away with such foolish tinkering! “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Praise the Lord!

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

(3) Today in 1839 – Samuel Stone Born
Faith in Christ is inseparably linked to our trust and confidence in the Scriptures. Samuel John Stone understood that. He served as a pastor in England during a time of great theological controversy. The flames of bitter feeling were fanned by a book entitled The Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua Critically Examined, which attacked the historicity of the Bible. Its accuracy was being challenged by liberal scholarship, but Pastor Stone (a wonderfully appropriate name!) stood firm.

In 1866, to reaffirm the Lordship of Christ, and His place as the only sure foundation of the church, he authored a hymn known as The Church’s One Foundation. Each thought is based firmly upon the Scriptures. So that there would be no doubt of this, Samuel Stone originally printed the hymn with the Bible verses alongside.

The church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heav’n He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!


Responses

  1. […] For the Lord’s Supper, I encourage you to try the tune with Cowper’s There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood, adding the refrain. (See below.) There’s a bit more about Robert McCutchan in the third item under Today in 1827, and more about William Cowper in the second item under Today in 1792. […]

  2. Excellent! I loved your review of many of our
    older beloved hymns. So sad that many of them
    have/are going by the way side. Keep up the good work.

    Don Brown

    • Thanks for the good word! If the Lord spares me, I think I have at least a couple of years more material to share regarding our traditional hymns and gospel songs. Working on my third book on the subject as well, and publishing a weekly newspaper column. My hope is to encourage more balance in those congregations that have gone almost exclusively “contemporary,” and to encourage congregations that still use the great old hymns of the faith.

  3. […] In 1769, William Cowper (pronounced Cooper) published a hymn about the need for a consistent walk with the Lord that avoids all idolatry. Cowper was troubled throughout his life with chronic depression. But at one point he moved to the little English village of Olney, where he became friends with the pastor of the local church, John Newton (the man who gave us the hymn Amazing Grace). Cowper boarded in the village with a Rev. and Mrs. Morley Unwin, and Mrs. Unwin also became his friend and counselor. (For more about Mr. Cowper and his hymns, see the second item under Today in 1792.) […]

  4. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  5. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  6. […] Wordwise Hymns (William Cowper) The Cyber […]

  7. “O may no earthborn cloud arise
    To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.”
    I remember an old evangelist in this area quote these words years ago, when preaching that those who come to know the Lord should ask Him to deliver them from the bad habit of smoking! However, I realise that the ‘earthborn cloud’ is an analogy of anything in this world which arises to take our eyes off the Lord. Thanks for the post – and as a result past memories of an old friend (that evangelist) who has gone to be with the Lord.

    • To make the “earthborn cloud” cigarette smoke is, of course, a misuse of the metaphor, though a novel one. Anything, a wrong attitude or action of any kind, that hinders our fellowship with the Lord, or weakens or service for the Lord, is an earthborn cloud.

  8. I have a the Evening Hymn book written 1887 a person received as gift 1906 would this be worth anything to anyone


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