Posted by: rcottrill | July 11, 2010

Today in 1819 – Susan Warner Born

Susan’s sister was American hymn writer Anna Warner (Jesus Loves Me, and We Would See Jesus). Susan was a novelist whose books were extremely popular in their day. Her story The Wide, Wide World has been called America’s first bestseller. It went through 14 editions in two years.

Both women were dedicated Christians. And Susan said, “He who serves God with what costs him nothing, will do very little service, you may depend on it!” The two of them held regular Bible studies for the cadets at West Point Military Academy, near their home. When they died, they were buried there with full military honours.

Though she wrote a great deal of prose, Susan Bogart Warner is known for one gospel song, Jesus Bids Us Shine. It expounds on the words of Jesus, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Jesus bids us shine with a pure, clear light,
Like a little candle burning in the night.
In this world of darkness so let us shine–
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

Jesus bids us shine, then, for all around;
Many kinds of darkness in the world abound–
Sin and want and sorrow; so we must shine–
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

(2) Today in 1895 – Alexander Ewing Died
Ewing was a Scottish military man whose avocation was music. He learned to play the violin, the cello and the clarinet, and was interested in choral music. He is known today solely for the tune that bears his name, Ewing. It has been used with a number of hymns, including Frances Havergal’s O Saviour, Precious Saviour, but it is best known as the tune for Jerusalem the Golden.

The latter hymn comes from a lengthy poem written by Bernard of Cluny in 1145. He called his poem De Contemptu Mundi (On the Contemptibleness of the World). In it he spells out the evils and social corruption of his day. With that he contrasts the beauty, peace and joy of the heavenly city, expanding somewhat on the description we are given in Revelation 21–22.

Jerusalem the golden, with milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not, what joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare.

They stand, those halls of Zion, all jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel, and all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them, the daylight is serene.
The pastures of the blessèd are decked in glorious sheen.

If you are concerned that hymn singing is being neglected in your church, check out my article 30 Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing. There may be a few ideas there you could try.


  1. […] We know Alexander Ewing in hymnody for one contribution only, the hymn tune Ewing that is used with the hymn Jerusalem the Golden, a hymn about the heavenly kingdom, written around 1145 by Bernard of Cluny. Mr. Ewing was a member of the Harmonic Choir in Aberdeen, Scotland. He brought his new tune to choir practice one night, and that group was the first to sing it. (To see a little more about Ewing and the hymn mentioned, see Item #2 in post called Today in 1819.) […]

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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