Posted by: rcottrill | July 31, 2010

Today in 1865 – Margaret Harris Born

Mrs. Harris and her husband were gospel musicians and evangelists in the United States with the holiness movement, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Margaret Jenkins Harris was also acclaimed as an effective speaker. Two gospel hymns she wrote are still in use. One is He Took My Sins Away.

I came to Jesus, weary, worn, and sad.
He took my sins away, He took my sins away.
And now His love has made my heart so glad,
He took my sins away.

He took my sins away, He took my sins away,
And keeps me singing every day!
I’m so glad He took my sins away,
He took my sins away.

The other of Margaret Harris’s songs that I’ve heard sung recently is I Will Praise Him.

When I saw the cleansing fountain
Open wide for all my sin,
I obeyed the Spirit’s wooing,
When He said, “Wilt thou be clean?”

I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
For His blood can wash away each stain.

(2) Today in 1889 – Horatius Bonar Died
Horatius Bonar, a pastor in Scotland, was a powerful preacher, as well as being the noted author of about 600 hymns. He was a man of great physical energy, with a powerful voice. It was not unusual for him to preach three times in his church, and once more in the open air, all in one day. He seemed to some to be always preaching. Others said he was always visiting, others that he was always writing, and still others that he was always praying. Known as the Prince of Scottish Hymn Writers, he kept a notebook in which he jotted down bits of verse as they occurred to him, often as he was traveling by railroad. (For Horatius Bonar’s beautiful Communion hymm, see Today in 1808.) His hymns include:

Go Labour on; Spend and Be Spent
Hallelujah for the Cross!
Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
I Lay My Sins on Jesus
(a hymn for children)
No Blood, No Altar, Now
No, Not Despairingly
Not What These Hands Have Done

But there is a sad peculiarity about the hymns of this good man. Beautiful, and spiritually enriching though they are, they were never sung in his own church! In the Free Church of Scotland at the time, only the Psalms were sung. Once when someone tried to introduce one of the pastor’s songs in a service, two of the elders rose up angrily and stormed out of the meeting. Yet such a closed door did not deter Bonar from writing songs that proved to be a blessing in many other churches and denominations.

A hymn published in 1846 he called The Voice from Galilee. We know it today as I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say. The first stanza is based on the promise of the Lord Jesus, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). The song celebrates the sufficiency of Christ to meet our deepest needs.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

Several tunes are used for this hymn. John Dykes’s Vox Dilecti is common, with its dramatic shift from a minor to a major key suiting a turning point in the text. The tune for the secular ballad Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes also works well. Here is another rendition of this beautiful hymn, by a Mennonite choir, using yet another tune.

 

Another beautiful but lesser known of Bonar’s hymns is Fill Thou My Life. I encourage you to check out the complete hymn on the Cyber Hymnal. It’s wonderful.

Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part!


Responses

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my post which quoted one verse of this hymn. Highlighting this date with Horatius Bonar is significant to me, since today is also my birthday.

    • Wow! Neat! Happy birthday! And may the Lord richly bless you.

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar born, died) The Cyber […]

  4. […] of Scottish hymn writers,” also produced some 600 hymns. (For more, see the second item under Today in 1865.)  Examples of his […]


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