Posted by: rcottrill | September 20, 2010

Today in 1908 – Walter Smith Died

Walter Chalmers Smith was born in Scotland and was educated in Edinburgh. He became a clergyman in the Scottish Church, and eventually identified himself with the Free Church of Scotland. He pastored several churches, and eventually was appointed moderator of the Free Church in 1893. He wrote a number of hymns, but only one is in common use today.

Smith wrote a majestic hymn of worship based on I Tim. 1:17, “To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” The hymn, called Immortal, Invisible, says in part:

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
All praise we would render–O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth Thee!

(2) Today in 1921 – William Kirkpatrick Died
American musician William James Kirkpatrick was a prolific composer of gospel song tunes. A couple of hymn books I pulled of the shelf contain 16 of his tunes, combined with the words of more than a dozen authors, including Fanny Crosby, Eliza Hewitt, and Thomas Chisholm. (The Cyber Hymnal currently lists 126 of his melodies. For a bit more of the man and his music, see the second item under Today in 1807.)

From 1890 comes his collaboration with Fanny Crosby in the lovely He Hideth My Soul.

A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Saviour to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!

When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.

William Kirkpatrick also supplied the tune for Fanny Crosby’s Meet Me There. It was a brief comment by Mr. Kirkpatrick as he was leaving Fanny’s home that inspired the song. She said, “Oh dear, it’s no­thing but meet­ing and part­ing in this world, isn’t it?” To which Kirkpatrick replied, “Well, I will not say, as [hymn writer Philip] Bliss did, ‘Meet me at the fount­ain,’ but I will say, ‘Where the tree of life is bloom­ing, meet me there.’” That comment led to the writing of:

On the happy, golden shore, where the faithful part no more,
When the storms of life are over, meet me there;
Where the night dissolves away into pure and perfect day,
I am going home to stay—meet me there.

Meet me there, meet me there,
Where the tree of life is blooming,
Meet me there;
When the storms of life are o’er,
On the happy golden shore,
Where the faithful part no more,
Meet me there.

Where the harps of angels ring, and the blest forever sing,
In the palace of the King, meet me there;
Where in sweet communion blend heart with heart and friend with friend,
In a world that ne’er shall end, meet me there.

(3) Today in 2006 – John Peterson Died
John Willard Peterson was one of the outstanding gospel music composers of the latter part of the twentieth century. He put his faith in Christ at the age of 12, and displayed a gift for making music early on. (He wrote his first song while still in high school.) In the Second World War, he served in the American Army Air Corps, flying the Himalayan supply route to China (“over the Hump”). In the army, he got the nickname “Deacon” for his habit of unashamedly having his morning devotions wherever he was. After the war, he attended Moody Bible Institute and the American Conservatory of Music.

Mr. Peterson either composed the music, or wrote words and music, for well over 1,000 songs, such as: It Took a Miracle, Springs of Living Water, Heaven Came Down, Jesus Is Coming Again and Surely Goodness and Mercy.  In addition, he wrote 35 cantatas and musicals. Approximately 10 million copies of these have been published and sold. He was admitted to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1986.

The hymn title, It Took a Miracle, was adapted for use with his autobiography, The Miracle Goes On, which was also made into a film about his life.

It took a miracle to put the stars in place,
It took a miracle to hang the world in space;
But when He saved my soul,
Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace.

In a fine little hymn, All Things Work Out for Good, published in 1961, Peterson explores the meaning of a familiar text, Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It is an encouraging thing to know that we will not depart this life until we have fulfilled God’s sovereign purpose.

All things work out for good, we know–
Such is God’s great design;
He orders all our steps below
For purposes divine.

So now the future holds no fear,
God guards the work begun;
And mortals are immortal here
Until their work is done.


  1. […] music is still in wide use. (For more about Mr. Peterson and his songs, see the third item under Today in 1908.) Here is just a sampling of the hymns he […]

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