Posted by: rcottrill | August 6, 2010

Today in 1821 – Edward Plumptre Born

Edward Hayes Plumptre was a brilliant scholar, a teacher, preacher and a theologian. He held professorships in Pastoral Theology, and in New Testament Exegesis, at King’s College, Oxford. He wrote many scholarly works and produced translations of ancient classics. Though Plumtre wrote a number of hymns, he is best know for the exuberant song of praise, Rejoice. Ye Pure in Heart, written for a choral festival in 1865.

Rejoice ye pure in heart;
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
Your glorious banner wave on high,
The cross of Christ your King.

Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice,
Give thanks and sing.

Praise Him who reigns on high,
The Lord whom we adore,
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
One God forevermore.

Here is a stirring choral version of this hymn.

(2) Today in 1866 – John Neale Died
John Mason Neale was known chiefly as a translator of ancient Greek and Latin hymns. Some of these that are still in common use are:

All Glory, Laud and Honour
Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid
Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation
Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
Good Christian Me, Rejoice
Jerusalem the Golden
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Of the Father’s Love Begotten
The Day of Resurrection

(3) Today in 1872 – John Work Born
The kidnapping and enslavement of multitudes of blacks from the coasts of Africa is a sorry aspect of American history. Often mistreated and put to hard labour, many of the slaves where nonetheless exposed to the Christian gospel and put their faith in the Saviour. With a limited understanding of the Scriptures, they produced their own unique hymnody in the form of traditional Spirituals.

Most of the slaves could neither read or write in English, and many of the songs were created before the time when effective sound recording was available (in the later nineteenth century). Because of this, the songs would have been lost to future generations, apart from the work of John Wesley Work, Jr.

Work was an able scholar, taught Latin and Greek at Fisk University, and later served as president of Roger Williams University in Nashville. But he had another passion as well. The son of a choir director, Work had a special interest in the music of his ancestors. He pioneered in researching, collecting and performing African American songs. We are able to sing many of them, including the Christmas carol Go, Tell It on the Mountain because of the efforts of John Work.

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching
O’er silent flocks by night
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light.

(4) Today in 1914 – John Campbell Died
John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell (Yes, that was his name!) was a British nobleman, chief of the Scottish Campbell clan, and the 9th Duke of Argyle. Ruggedly handsome, he married Princess Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria, and served as a member of Parliament for South Manchester for 12 years. Notably, he was appointed the Governor-General of Canada, the queen’s official representative in the Dominion, a position he held from 1878 to 1883.

Graphic John CampbellAt the age of 33, Campbell was Canada’s youngest Governor-General. His coming to Canada created great excitement in the country, especially since Rideau Hall would have its first royal resident in the person of his wife. The young couple traveled throughout Canada, meeting with people from all over. It is evident he was greatly admired. Campbell was also known as the Marquess of Lorne, and Lorne became a common boy’s name in Canada as nowhere else, as a result of his popularity.

John Campbell was also a dedicated Christian. In 1877, he produced a metrical version of Psalm 121, the hymn Unto the Hills. It is still in use, and deservedly so, as it gives us a clear and accurate rendering of the passage. Note the wording of Ps. 121:1. The King James Version translates it as a statement: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” But the latter half of the verse is more likely a question. The psalmist was not looking to the hills for help. They were full of danger from robber bands. Campbell’s translation is correct.

Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes
O whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise?
From God, the Lord, doth come my certain aid,
From God, the Lord, who heaven and earth hath made.

He will not suffer that thy foot be moved: safe shalt thou be.
No careless slumber shall His eyelids close, who keepeth thee.
Behold, He sleepeth not, He slumbereth ne’er,
Who keepeth Israel in His holy care.

This link presents a fine brass band version of the beautiful tune Sandon, used with Unto the Hills–and, as indicated, sometimes with Lead, Kindly Light, as well.


  1. I just wanted to let know that I hope you are able to keep up the good work. These are all interesting and informative. God Bless.

    • Thanks. So far so good. I have an entire year outlined, but writing the blogs, checking details, finding pictures, etc. It all takes time. Response has been encouraging. God bless.

  2. […] The text for this hymn was written by an early Governor General of Canada. To learn more, see Item #3 under Today in 1821. […]

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