Francesco Bernardone was born in central Italy. At the age of 22 he had a significant spiritual experience and determined to devote himself to a life of poverty and service for Christ.
A few years later, he formulated his lifestyle into a set of rules, applying to Pope Innocent III for permission to found a religious order along these lines. It was granted, and the Franciscan order was born. Barefoot, and having given up all earthly possessions, members went out two by two, preaching the need for repentance, and aiding the poor and the sick wherever they went, frequently working compassionately among lepers. They slept in hay lofts or leper houses along the way.
Francis died at the age of 44, but his great love of the natural world is commemorated in his hymn, All creatures of our God and King.
All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
(2) Today in 1837 – Mary Maxwell Born
At least, we think Mary E. Maxwell was born then. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the authorship of the hymn Channels Only. Nowhere is data available for the woman credited with writing it. However, there was a popular author in England whose name was Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1837-1915). She married a John Maxwell in 1874, and it is thought that she may be the “Mary E. Maxwell” credited with the hymn-poem.
Whatever the authorship, this song says some important things. Preeminently, that we have nothing of spiritual worth to give needy people. Rather, the Lord wants us to be channels of His love and blessing to them. The Bible speaks of being “a vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (II Tim. 2:21). That is what God expects of us–to His glory, not our own.
Using a slightly different gardening analogy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (I Cor. 3:6-7). He says, “I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3). And he adds later, “I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (vs. 10). Are you a channel the Lord can use?
How I praise Thee, precious Saviour,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.
Channels only, blessèd Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.
Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.
(3) Today in 1888 – Homer Rodeheaver Born
Homer Alvan Rodeheaver began his gospel music ministry as a song leader with evangelist Billy Sunday. Uniquely, he held his trombone in one hand, as he led. Another gospel musician, George Stebbins, called it his “magic wand.” Stebbins said he was impressed with:
His great gift as a leader and…the ease with which he controls vast multitudes of people; also his winsome personality which renders him a worthy and invaluable associate of the great evangelist with whom he has been working for many years.
Mr. Rodheaver appears briefly (with his signature trombone) at the beginning of this very old film clip, as he introduces Billy Sunday to a waiting audience. Billy speaks of the reasons for his support of Prohibition.
Homer Rodeheaver wrote the music for a number of gospel songs. Among them, Good Night and Good Morning, and Then Jesus Came. In later years he founded the Rodeheaver-Ackly Company (eventually becoming the Rodeheaver Hall-Mack Company), publishers of gospel music.