Posted by: rcottrill | May 18, 2010

Today in 1864 – Cesar Malan Died

Henri Abraham Cesar Malan was a Swiss pastor, evangelist and ardent soul-winner. He had a significant role to play in the conversion and spiritual development of Charlotte Elliot, author of the hymn Just As I Am. (For the story behind this hymn, see the second item under Today in 1858.) Malan had many gifts and skills in addition to those mentioned. He was an artist, author, mechanic, carpenter, blacksmith and printer, and he wrote more than a thousand hymns and hymn tunes.

Of his many songs, Malan wrote one with the intriguing title It Is Not Death to Die. This seeming contradiction is also found in the words of the Lord Jesus:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn. 11:25-26)

The empty tomb of Jesus proclaims to the world that He has conquered death. Through faith in Him, we will do the same.  To die as a Christian is not the end but the beginning. Death is merely a doorway to something greater that we can possibly imagine. Contemporary musician Bob Kauflin has produced a slightly modified version of Malan’s hymn. It says:

It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high,
Who’ve found their home with God.
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears,
And wake in joy before Your throne,
Delivered from our fears

O Jesus, conquering the grave,
Your precious blood has power to save.
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die.

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust,
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just.
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore.

(2) Today in 1964 – Ina Ogdon Died
Ina Mae Duley attended college in Illinois and taught school in that state for a number of years. She wrote her first hymn in 1892 and began a long collaboration with hymn writer Charles Gabriel. In 1896, Ina married James Ogdon and the couple moved to Toledo, Ohio a few years later.

Ogdon’s most familiar song text is Brighten the Corner Where You Are (for which Charles Gabriel wrote the tune). Early in her life she had hoped to become a speaker on the Chautauqua circuit. However, her father was severely injured in an automobile accident and she was compelled to abandon the idea and care for him at home. She wrote this song to show how the Lord can used us in many different circumstances.

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!

Brighten the Corner was written around 1912 or 1913. Here is the Criterion Quartet singing the song, on a recording made almost a century ago.


  1. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  2. Thank you for this window of history. Both songs of Mrs Ogden are part of my history too. The words of both drift through my memory often. “You Must Open the Door” was often used in VBS, while this one I often used in Sunday Worship because of its lilting tune and pointed message in verse. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

    • The words, “Brighten the corner were you are” remind me of the words of the Lord Jesus concerning the woman who anointed His head with precious ointment: “She has done what she could” (Mk. 14:8). And surely that’s the responsibility of each of us. To use the gifts and opportunities God gives us to serve Him. Thanks for your note–and Merry Christmas to you, as well! 🙂


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