This is not a man who will be known to most today, since his hymns are no longer in common use. But he was an English Baptist pastor and author in the seventeenth century, much persecuted for his beliefs. In 1664, he was fined, imprisoned and pilloried, for a book he had written, but he went on to write over 40 of them, along with hundreds of hymns. He worked as an evangelist in the small towns and villages of England, finally becoming established in London, where he ministered to a large congregation in his latter years. He is noted as the first to introduce hymn singing to Baptist congregations in England.
The little Christmas carol Awake My Soul, Awake My Tongue provides a sample of his hymn output. (You can see the entire selection and hear the tune on the Cyber Hymnal.)
Awake, my soul, awake, my tongue,
My glory wake and sing,
And celebrate the holy birth,
The birth of Israel’s King!
The careful shepherds with their flocks
Were watching for the morn,
But better news from heav’n was brought;
Your Saviour now is born!
(2) Today in 1842 – William Bambridge Born
William Samuel Bambridge, an organist and choir director born in New Zealand, composed the tune St. Asaph, used with a lovely, though little-known hymn of praise, At Thy Feet, Our God and Father. (For the entire piece and the tune, see the Cyber Hymnal.)
At Thy feet, our God and Father,
Who has blest us all our days,
We with grateful hearts would gather,
To begin this hour with praise:
Praise for light so brightly shining
On our steps from heaven above;
Praise for mercies daily twining
Round us golden cords of love.
Every day will be the brighter
When Thy gracious face we see;
Every burden will be lighter
When we know it comes from Thee,
Spread Thy love’s broad banner o’er us,
Give us strength to serve and wait,
Till the glory breaks before us
Through the City’s open gate.
(3) Today in 1927 – Edward Smith Born
Edward Russell Smith, better known as Tedd Smith, was born in London, Ontario, Canada. A pianist, composer and arranger, who worked for years with Billy Graham in his evangelistic ministry, he has written about 40 hymn texts and tunes. One day in September of 1972 he was invited to attend a Communion Service with a small group of believers unknown to him. The bond of love in Christ he experienced made a deep impression on Smith. He thought of the words of the Lord Jesus, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). It was that incident that led him to write There’s a Quiet Understanding.
There’s a quiet understanding when we’re gathered in the Spirit,
It’s a promise that He gives us, when we gather in His name.
There’s a love we feel in Jesus, there’s a manna that He feeds us–
It’s a promise that He gives us when we gather in His name.