Posted by: rcottrill | October 17, 2010

Today in 1792 – John Bowring Born

Hymn historian Robert McCutchan describes Bowring as a “philanthropist, publicist, biographer, statesman, historian, financier, naturalist, poet, great linguist, and one of the most brilliant men of his time.” He could understand Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, and Dutch, before he was 16 years old, and eventually mastered a hundred languages! He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1854.

Sir John Bowring produced a couple of volumes of hymns, and we have two or three in common use from him: God Is Love, His Mercy Brightens, and In the Cross of Christ I Glory, as well as the carol, Watchman, Tell Us of the Night. His tombstone is inscribed with the words, “In the cross of Christ I glory.” In one of his books of hymns he wrote in the Preface:

Should any fragment of this little book, remembered and dwelt upon in moments of gloom and anxiety, tend to restore peace, to awaken fortitude, to create, to renew, or to strengthen confidence in heaven, I shall have obtained the boon for which I pray–the end to which I aspire.

The Bible, a number of times, emphasizes what the theologians call the immutable nature of God. And in the hymn, God Is Love, His Mercy Brightens, John Bowring contrasts the uncertainties of life with the unchangeableness of God.

It’s not that the Lord hasn’t done different things down through history. The Son of God stepped into time at His incarnation, died on a cross and rose again. Those are historical events, not to be repeated. Romans tells us that “Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more” (Rom. 6:9). But that has to do with the Lord’s actions, not with His Being. As to Himself, His basic nature and character, the Almighty declares, “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).

God is love; His mercy brightens
All the path in which we rove;
Bliss He wakes, and woe He lightens:
God is wisdom, God is love.

Chance and change are busy ever;
Man decays and ages move;
But His mercy waneth never:
God is wisdom, God is love.

E’en the hour that darkest seemeth
Will His changeless goodness prove;
From the mist His brightness streameth:
God is wisdom, God is love.

(2) More from Philip Bliss
Philip Bill produced some wonderful songs during his short life. (For more about him see Today in 1838.) Mr. Bliss wrote the rousing gospel song Dare to Be a Daniel for his Sunday School class at the First Congregational Church, in Chicago. Daniel is the kind of hero young people need. Taken from his home and family, when in his teens, he became a slave in a far away heathen land. But he stood by his spiritual principles, and was faithful to God in all things. Daniel and his like form a “band” of witnesses to the power of God.

Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honour them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.

Many mighty men are lost
Daring not to stand,
Who for God had been a host
By joining Daniel’s band.

Hold the Gospel banner high!
On to vict’ry grand!
Satan and his hosts defy,
And shout for Daniel’s band.

Hallelujah, ‘Tis Done is a reminder that God’s salvation is not based on a “do” (human effort), but on an already “done” (the work of Christ in the cross). Simple faith in Christ, apart from any human works, is all that’s required of us. The gospel song is repetitive, but it is certainly a truth that bears repeating. And there’s a touching story about the hymn on the Cyber Hymnal.

’Tis the promise of God, full salvation to give
Unto him who on Jesus, His Son, will believe.

Hallelujah, ’tis done! I believe on the Son;
I am saved by the blood of the crucified One;
Hallelujah, ’tis done! I believe on the Son;
I am saved by the blood of the crucified One.

Though the pathway be lonely, and dangerous, too,
Surely Jesus is able to carry me through.

There’s a part in that chorus for you and for me,
And the theme of our praises forever will be:


  1. Dare to Be A Daniel will always take me back to my mother singing a song for her eldest boy. Thank you for the smile today. 🙂

    • You’re welcome. Drop by any time. 🙂

  2. […] (2) Today in 1872 – John Bowring Died A prominent British statesman and linguist, John Bowring served two terms as a member of parliament, and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1854. Bowring also wrote several hymns, including: In the Cross of Christ I Glory, God Is Love–His Mercy Brightens, and the lovely carol Watchman, Tell us of the Night. (For more about the man, and another of his hymns, see Today in 1792.) […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  4. […] Wordwise Hymns (more on John Bowring) The Cyber […]

  5. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  6. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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