Posted by: rcottrill | October 15, 2010

Today in 1838 – Gerard Cobb Born

Gerard Francis Cobb, an English musician, was a spiritually minded man. At one point he considered entering pastoral ministry, but chose instead a musical career. He worked in the music program at Cambridge University, and wrote a number of hymns and anthems.

Mr. Cobb wrote a tune (called Cobb) for the hymn Zion to Thy Saviour Singing. This is a translation of Lauda Sion Salvatorem, written by Thomas Aquinas around 1260. It is one of relatively few English hymns whose titles begin with the letter “Z.” However, it would be more accurate biblically to change the word “Zion” to “Christian,” as many have done with the hymn O Zion Haste.

Zion, to thy Saviour singing,
To thy Prince and Shepherd bringing,
Sweetest hymns of love and praise,
Thou wilt never reach the measure
Of His worth, by all the treasure
Of thy most ecstatic lays.

Fill thy lips to overflowing
With sweet praise, His mercy showing
Who this heav’nly table spread:
On this day so glad and holy,
To each longing spirit lowly
Giveth He the living Bread.

Here the King hath spread His table,
Whereon eyes of faith are able
Christ our Passover to trace:
Shadows of the law are going,
Light and life and truth inflowing,
Night to day is giving place.

O Good Shepherd, Bread life giving,
Us, Thy grace and life receiving,
Feed and shelter evermore;
Thou on earth our weakness guiding,
We in heav’n with Thee abiding,
With all saints will Thee adore.

(2) Today in 1864 – Onward Christian Soldiers published
Sabine Baring-Gould was an English clergyman and author in the nineteenth century. The many books he wrote cover an astonishing range of subjects–religion and theology, travel, folklore and mythology, history, fiction, and collected sermons. In addition, he edited a quarterly publication on ecclesiastical art and literature. He is also recognized in Grove’s Dictionary for his work in collecting English folk songs. Baring-Gould is described by contemporary James Moffatt as “a man of extraordinary range of interests, and of inexhaustible versatility and industry.” He lived to the age of 90. (For more on this fascinating man, see Today in 1834.)

Sabine Baring-Gould is known in hymnody mainly for two hymns still in common use: Now the Day Is Over, and Onward, Christian Soldiers. Concerning the latter, there is an interesting footnote. The author’s third stanza says:

We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

But Baring-Gould was well aware of the many divisions in the church. At the time, he was writing the song for the children in his own little congregation–a group which may well have enjoyed harmonious fellowship. But in the greater body of Christ that’s not always the case.

The author later revised the stanza to read: “Though divisions harass, all one body we.” His edited version never caught on, and perhaps it is just as well. His original words give us something to aim for. God’s Word says we are to “endeavour…to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). In that spirit, let us go onward for Christ.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

The following rendition is a little too fast for congregational singing (or for soldiers marching), but otherwise fine.


  1. […] of the hymns of Sabine Baring-Gould have remained in use: Onward Christian Soldiers, and a lovely evening hymn called Now the Day Is […]

  2. […] Day Is Over published English clergyman Sabine Baring-Gould is best known as the author of the hymn Onward, Christian Soldiers. However, he did write others. Among them is a lovely evening hymn called Now the Day Is Over (see […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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