Posted by: rcottrill | May 26, 2010

Today in 1811 – William Hunter Born

Born in Ireland, William Hunter’s emigrated to America with his family when he was 6 years old. In his adult years, ordained as a Methodist minister, he taught Hebrew at Allegheny College, and also edited various periodicals. Though he wrote 125 hymns, the only one still in use is The Great Physician (originally called Christ, the Physician). As written, it had 7 stanzas, but only 4 are commonly found in hymnals today. The hymn begins:

The great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,
Oh! hear the voice of Jesus.

Sweetest note in seraph song,
Sweetest Name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung,
Jesus, blessèd Jesus.

(2) Today in 1823 – Francis Bottome Born
Francis (Frank) Bottome emigrated from England to America in 1850 and became a pastor with the Methodist Episcopal Church. He wrote several hymns, and a couple are worthy of mention here. The more familiar of the two is The Comforter Has Come.

“The Comforter” is a title given to the Holy Spirit in the King James Version. In a time of teaching, just before He went to the cross, the Lord Jesus promised “another Comforter” to help  His followers (Jn. 14:16–“another” in the sense that Christ had done something similar while He was on earth). The word “Comforter” (parakletos in Greek) is impossible to translate with a single English word. Literally, it describes the Spirit of God as One called alongside to help. The various Bible versions give us such words as: Helper, Friend, Advocate, Counselor, and Encourager. J. B. Phillips’ paraphrase perhaps comes close to the original with “Someone to stand by you.”

The coming of the Spirit to begin His Church Age ministry was a momentous and joyful event. And that is what Frank Bottome’s hymn celebrates. It begins:

O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found,
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound;
Let ev’ry Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!

The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from Heav’n, the Father’s promise giv’n;
O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found—
The Comforter has come!

A second hymn written by Frank Bottome is less known, but worthy of note. The original opening phrase (used to begin several stanzas) was “O bliss of the purified.” This has been amended in the version below to “O joy of the justified,” which I personally prefer.

The great doctrine of justification involves God pronouncing righteous those who put their faith in Christ, since the righteousness of Christ has been credited to their heavenly account. We are “justified freely by His grace” (Rom. 3:24), and “justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law [i.e. apart from good works, human effort]” (Rom. 3:28).

To hear a rousing version of Bottome’s hymn see if you can locate a cassette or CD of A Thousand Tongues to Sing, the third All-Britain Festival of Male Voice Praise, recorded in 1978.

O joy of the justified, joy of the free!
I’m washed in the crimson tide opened for me;
In Christ, my Redeemer, rejoicing I stand,
And point to the print of the nail in His hand.

O Jesus, my Saviour, I’ll still sing of Thee,
Yes, sing of Thy precious blood poured out for me;
And when in the mansions of glory above,
I’ll praise and adore Thine unchangeable love.


  1. Yesterday was the celebration of Pentecost for Western Christianity. Thank you for the Holy Ghost hymn!

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  3. Where did Mr. Hunter get the idea that seraphim sing?


%d bloggers like this: