Posted by: rcottrill | July 20, 2010

Today in 1893 – William Owen Died

William Owen was a Welshman who laboured in a slate quarry. He wrote a number of hymn tunes, including Bryn Calfaria (Calvary Hill) to which we sing the gospel song What Did He Do? The tune is in a typical rousing Welsh style, similar to that of Cwn Rhondda to which we sing Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.

Owen’s composition dates from 1852, but James M. Gray adopted it for his text, What Did He Do? in 1903. James Martin Gray was president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the early part of the twentieth century. (For more on Dr. Gray, see the second item under Today in 1827, and Today in 1935.) If you have a singing congregation of reasonable size that can handle the parts (especially in the chorus) the song may well become a favourite, rendered with joyful enthusiasm.

O listen to our wondrous story,
Counted once among the lost;
Yet One came down from heaven’s glory,
Saving us at awful cost!

Who saved us from eternal loss?
Who but God’s Son upon the cross?
What did He do?
He died for you!
Where is He now?
In heaven interceding!

No angel could His place have taken,
Highest of the high though he;
The loved One on the cross forsaken,
Was One of the Godhead three!

Apologies on behalf of the one who produced the following video link. I’m sure the upside-down picture in the middle was completely accidental.

(2) And Is It So? A Little While (Data Missing)
We know nothing of the author of And Is it So? A Little While, published in 1864. The tune was written by Joseph Maclean. You can hear the tune on the Cyber Hymnal.

This lovely little second coming hymn seems to draw its theme from the words of the writer of Hebrews: “For yet a little while [just a little longer], and He who is coming will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37).

In spite of the dogmatic date-setting of a few authors and TV preachers, it is still true that God is keeping His own counsel regarding the time of Christ’s return. “That day and hour no one knows, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36; cf. 24:42; 25:13). Yet in the light of eternity, it is but a short time until He appears.

And is it so? “A little while,”
And then the life undying,
The light of God’s unclouded smile,
The singing for the sighing?
“A little while!” O glorious word,
Sweet solace of our sorrow;
And then “forever with the Lord,”
The everlasting morrow.

Then be it ours to journey on
In paths that He decrees us,
Where His own feet before have gone,
Our strength, our hope, our Jesus;
In lowly fellowship with Him
The cross appointed bearing;
For O a crown no grief can dim
One day we shall be wearing.

O ’twill be passing sweet to gaze
On Him in all His glory;
And lost in love and glad amaze
To shout redemption’s story;
Till angels bend to catch the strain
Our human lips are swelling,
And “worthy is the Lamb once slain,”
Resounds through heaven’s high dwelling.


  1. […] Today in 1935 – James Gray Died James Martin Gray was born in New York City in 1851, and he put his faith in Christ as Saviour at the age of 22. In 1879 he became rector of the First Reformed Episcopal Church, in Boston, where he served for 14 years. He taught at the summer sessions of Moody Bible Institute, and in 1904 became dean of the Institute, and later served as its president. He was a man of vision, and the school grew under his able administration. He helped to make it an effective missionary training institution. (My own father was a music major at Moody, in Dr. Gray’s time.) For more about Mr Gray and his songs, see the second item under Today in 1827 and the first under Today in 1893.  […]


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