Posted by: rcottrill | April 26, 2010

Today in 1834 – Horatio Palmer Born

If the child of God resists temptation, by God’s grace, that victory will tend to strengthen his spiritual fibre, and each victory will bring with it the power to win new and greater victories. The slippery slope of sin works in the opposite way. When we succumb to temptation, it becomes easily to fall the next time.

One day in 1868, these ideas impressed themselves upon the mind of composer Horatio Richmond Palmer. Dr. Palmer was the author of several books on the technical aspects of music, and an editor of a number of hymn books. At the moment, he was working at his desk on an exercise in musical theory. Perhaps it was the concept that all learning requires discipline that got him thinking. That is certainly true of mastering the art of making music. But Palmer’s mind turned quickly in another direction. What of dealing with the temptation to sin?

In a sudden burst of inspiration, Horatio Palmer set these truths to music. He says, “I was at work on the dry subject of theory when the complete idea flashed upon me. I laid aside the theoretical work and hurriedly penned both words and music as fast as I could write them.” The result was a song called Yield Not to Temptation, later published in the National Sunday School Teachers’ Magazine.

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Ask the Saviour to help you,
Comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you,
He will carry you through.

To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;
He Who is our Saviour our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.

It may partly be the fault of the 6/4 rhythm of the tune, but it seems difficult to find a rendition of this song that does not swing and sway rather energetically, often with percussion accompaniment that virtually overwhelms the singing. To my ear, this does not suit the serious admonitions of the song to avoid dark passions, evil companions, profanity, and other sins. Here is a more straightforward a cappella version (though there are some distracting riffs in the final chorus!).

(2) Today in 1900 – O Thou Who Gavest Power to Love sung
AGraphic Wedding graduate of Merton College, Oxford, Mandell Creighton was ordained a deacon in 1870, and priest in 1873. He became Bishop of Peterborough in 1891, and Bishop of London in 1897.  His hymn was written in 1900, and given to the Honorable Sarah Kathleen, daughter of the 4th Lord of Lyttleton. It was a kind of wedding gift, and was used on the occasion of her marriage to Mr. J. C. Bailey, at St. Margarent’s Church, Westminster.

 The Bible tells us “the fruit of the Spirit [the result of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the heart of the believer] is love,” among other character qualities (Gal. 5:22-23). The author builds on the idea that God is the source of our power to love Him and others. Sound wisdom for the newlyweds and for each of us.

O Thou Who gavest power to love
That we might fix our hearts on Thee,
Preparing us for joys above
By that which here on earth we see:

Thy Spirit trains our souls to know
The growing purpose of Thy will,
And gives to love the power to show
That purpose growing larger still;

Larger, as love to reverent eyes
Makes manifest another soul,
And shows to life a richer prize,
A clearer course, a nobler goal.

Lord, grant Thy servants who implore
Thy blessing on the hearts they blend,
That from that union evermore
New joys may blossom to the end.


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog. To give you an update on the atheist church member, the presbytery removed him from the church membership rolls and then conducted a training for the session of that church on Book of Order requirements for membership.

    Your blog is quite interesting and informative! Thanks for letting me know about it. Its always inspiring to learn the stories behind our hymns.

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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