Posted by: rcottrill | August 20, 2010

Today in 1153 – Bernard of Clairvaux Died

Bernard was a monk born in France during the Middle Ages. He was studious and reclusive, spending most of his life within the confines of one monastery or another. The one he himself founded at Clairvaux became world famous, and his counsel was sought by kings and church authorities. Four centuries later, Martin Luther said of him that he was “the best monk that ever lived, whom I admire beyond all the rest put together.”

Several hymns attributed to Bernard are translations from a longer Latin poem entitled Jesu Dulcis Memoria (“Sweet Remembrance of Jesus”). Among these are: Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee; Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts; and O Hope of Every Contrite Heart. Other hymns said to be from Bernard are O Jesus, King Most Wonderful, and O Sacred Head Now Wounded.

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize will be;
Jesus be Thou our glory now,
And through eternity.

(2) Today in 1926 – Robert Weir Died
Graphic Canadian FlagThe original name of my home country, the Dominion of Canada, was suggested to the politicians in 1866 by a verse of Scripture:  “He [the Lord] shall have dominion also from sea to sea” (Ps. 72:8). Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, wrote to Queen Victoria, saying that the title was “a tribute to the principles we earnestly desire to uphold.”

To express a country’s vision it helps to have a national song. In Canada, such a selection was created, thirteen years after Confederation. But it would be another century before it was officially adopted as our national anthem. As you will see, there is an explicit prayer, in the refrain, and the last stanza, a prayer for divine aid and more. Sadly, the words have become a mere formality to many–and others would like to remove any reference to God for fear we might offend some atheists!

The anthem began with a French version, written in 1880. Many English translations were attempted in the years following. The one that eventually gained favour was written in 1908 by Justice Robert Stanley Weir. Mr. Weir was born in Hamilton, Ontario (my home town). He authored both scholarly legal books and poetry. But his most famous work is the national anthem, O Canada. The little-used final stanza (the fourth) recognizes our country’s need to depend on God. Then, in 1968, a joint com­mit­tee of the Ca­na­di­an Sen­ate and House of Com­mons amend­ed Weir’s text to in­clude the words, “God keep our land,” in the refrain.

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Ruler Supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion in Thy loving care;
Help us to find, O God, in Thee
A lasting, rich reward,
As, waiting for the better day,
We ever stand on guard.


  1. Its too bad that most important last verse isn’t really used much. I’d love to see that be the widespread prayer of our country (the U.S.) as well.

    • I agree. It seems inevitable, given human nature, that nations (sometimes churches, and Christian organizations, too) drift away from their early vision. But people of faith need to keep calling them back to it.

  2. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

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