Posted by: rcottrill | April 27, 2010

Today in 1824 – Anne Cousin Born

Samuel Rutherford was born in the year 1600 in the south of Scotland. He possessed a keen intellect. At the young age of 23 he was appointed Professor of Latin, at Edinburgh University. But that was not to be his calling. After completing theological studies, Rutherford became the minister of a church in the little village of Anwoth.

He proved to be an outstanding pastor, much loved by his people. It was his custom to rise at three in the morning to read and pray–and he sat up late as well! The centre of Samuel Rutherford’s life was Christ, whom he loved with an overwhelming passion. He laboured and longed to see all in his parish come to faith in the Saviour. The work was fruitful, but never easy.

Over the years, his life was touched by multiplied sorrows. His wife and their two children died and were buried in the Anwoth churchyard. He faced another trial too. It was a time when the English crown tried to dominate the Scottish church, imposing the forms and rituals of the Church of England on it. Rutherford opposed this and wrote a potent volume arguing against the “divine right of kings.”

His book was burned, and Rutherford was arrested. After a trial, he was forbidden to preach, and was sent into exile. The separation from his beloved congregation was heartbreaking. He wrote many letters of encouragement and counsel to his friends in Anwoth. Those letters have since been published and are recognized as a spiritual classic.

After his release from exile, Samuel Rutherford served as a professor at St. Andrew’s University, and as commissioner to the Westminster Assembly. But other than by his now-famous letters, it is in his death in 1661 that this great saint made an indelible mark.

As he lay dying Rutherford could hardly talk of anything else but Christ. “I shall shine,” he whispered to his friends, “I shall see Him as He is, and all the fair company with Him, and shall have my large share….I have got the victory, and Christ is holding forth His arms to embrace me.” Then came his last words, “Glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s Land.”

Almost 200 years later, a woman named Anne Ross Cundell Cousin, herself the wife of a Scottish pastor, immortalized those words in a hymn. Mrs. Cousin (1824-1906) not only knew the Scriptures, she was steeped in the life and letters of Samuel Rutherford. Her beautiful hymn, The Sands of Time Are Sinking, reflects this. (For more about this great hymn, see the second item under Today in 1807.)

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

With mercy and with judgment my web of time He wove,
And aye, the dews of sorrow were lustered with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided, I’ll bless the heart that planned
When throned where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

I have often had a congregation sing the final stanza of a hymn unaccompanied (especially when it is a prayer hymn, or one expressing personal devotion). It is a bit riskier to have folks sing one of the middle stanzas unaccompanied and then have the instrument(s) come back in. However, this is done effectively in the video clip. (It certainly helps to have a pastor or worship leader who is a fine singer, as here!)

Check the Cyber Hymnal for another moving hymn by Anne Cousin, and a couple of interesting stories about the hymn as well. O Christ, What Burdens Bowed Thy Head powerfully presents the doctrine of the substitutionary death of Christ–that He suffered the judgment for our sin that, through faith in Him, we might be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life.

(2) Today in 1859 – George Doane Died
George Washington Doane was born in Trenton, New Jersey. After graduating from Union College, he took a position as an assistant at Trinity Church in New York. He later became professor of rhetoric and belles-lettres at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, then rector of Trinity Church, Boston (where hymn writer Phillips Brooks pastored later). Dr. Doane also served as Episcopal bishop of New Jersey, and helped found Burlington College and St. Mary’s Hall of Doane Academy. He was a pioneer in education, much ahead of his time.

Doane was one of the first Americans following the Episcopal tradition who encouraged hymn singing in churches that had sung only the Psalms before. He wrote a number of hymns himself. Two of these are: Softly Now the Light of Day, and Fling Out the Banner.  The latter was written for a ceremony to raise a new flag at St. Mary’s School in Burlington, New Jersey.

Fling out the banner! let it float
Skyward and seaward, high and wide;
The sun that lights its shining folds,
The cross, on which the Saviour died.

Fling out the banner! sin sick souls
That sink and perish in the strife,
Shall touch in faith its radiant hem,
And spring immortal into life.

Fling out the banner! let it float
Skyward and seaward, high and wide,
Our glory, only in the cross;
Our only hope, the Crucified!


  1. […] (2) Today in 1845 – Chretien d’Urhan Died Mr. d’Urhan was a well-known French musician who played the violin in the orchestra of the Paris Opera House, and was the organist of St. Vincent’s Church in that city. He is known in hymnody as the composer of the tune Rutherford, used with the beautiful hymn The Sands of Time Are Sinking. […]

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  4. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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