Posted by: rcottrill | August 26, 2010

Today in 1906 – Spencer Walton Died

Mr. Walton was a missionary and evangelist, working with the South Africa General Mission in the latter part of the nineteenth century. About 1889, W. Spencer Walton founded The Sailor’s Rest, in the city of Durban, Natal (a region in South Africa). He ministered to the spiritual needs of seaman there. During the Boer War, he distributed Bibles to the English soldiers. Spencer Walton’s missionary work is known mainly through the books and pamphlets he wrote. He is also credited with one hymn, In Tenderness He Sought Me, published in 1894.

The first stanza of the hymn draws upon a parable the Lord Jesus told about a shepherd seeking his lost sheep (Lk. 15:3-7). The second stanza echoes the loving actions of the good Samaritan in another parable (Lk. 10:30-37). Walton applied both of these images to Christ.

In tenderness He sought me,
Weary and sick with sin;
And on His shoulders brought me
Back to His fold again.
While angels in His presence sang
Until the courts of heaven rang.

Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold,
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold.

He washed the bleeding sin wounds,
And poured in oil and wine;
He whispered to assure me,
“I’ve found thee, thou art Mine”;
I never heard a sweeter voice;
It made my aching heart rejoice!

(2) Today in 1958 – Ralph Williams Died
Ralph (pronounced Rafe) Vaughn Williams was a central figure in British classical music in the early twentieth century. He wrote symphonies, chamber music, operas, choral music and film scores, and was a collector of English folk music. Though either an atheist or agnostic, he wrote or arranged a number of hymn tunes, and also helped edit two hymnals and The Oxford Book of Carols.

His 1906 tune Sine Nomine (Latin words meaning “without a name”) is used with the hymn For All the Saints. At first it was dismissed as “jazz music” by the staid Church of England, but it has more lately been judged one of the better hymn tunes of the twentieth century.

William Walsham How wrote the text for the above hymn in 1864. (Originally, the opening line was “For all Thy saints.” It was changed with the author’s permission.) It honours the servants of God in past generations, taking as its inspiration the reference to “so great a cloud of witnesses in Heb. 12:1.

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!


  1. Interesting to have these hymns brought to attention; thank you.

    • You’re welcome. That’s been my mission for many years. I want individuals and churches that have “gone contemporary” to realize the riches they are missing by virtually ignoring 2000 years of Christian hymnody. Keep the best of the new, sure. But also continue to mine the gold in the old.

  2. I’ve never been in a church where SINE NOMINE would “work better as a choral number.” We sing the usual eight verses in procession – can’t imagine limiting it to the choir!

    • That’s great–and I stand corrected. It’s certainly a great hymn and tune. My church background has been perhaps less formal, less liturgical. It was in our hymn book. But I’ve only ever heard it sung as a choral number. (Our loss.)

  3. You can be a little creative in teaching an 8 verse song. Perhaps the intro is straight from the hymnal (nothing creative), then a solo sings verse one, choir verse two, congregation three…

    Then you can alternate between solo-congregation-choir

    By the time the congregation comes in, they will have heard the tune 3 times.

    Another teaching option is to teach the congregation the Alleluias at the end, and have a solo or choir sing the body of each verse.

    Thanks for the RVW post, btw! Here’s one of my favorite anthems of his that is accessible to church choirs. 4 parts plus a brief solo part. O Taste and See! 🙂

    • Thanks, as always, for your comments and insights. And thanks for reminding readers of the blog that it’s possible to use a little creativity in the congregational singing of our hymns–without interferring with the mood or the message. Maybe I need to do a topical article specifically on ways to teach new hymns.

  4. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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