Robert Seymour Bridges attended Oxford, and studied medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Later, because of ill health, he gave up his goal to become a doctor but, discovering he had a special gift for writing, he turned his career in that direction. Bridges published three volumes of poetry, several plays, and other works. He was also esteemed as a literary critic, and was named British Poet Laureate in 1913.
Mr. Bridges wrote a great deal about hymns and hymn writing, as well as contributing some hymns of his own. But his place in hymnody comes more from his translation work. He translated a number of hymns from German, for example, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, by Martin Janus, and Ah, Holy Jesus, How Has Thou Offended? by Johann Heerman.
Ah, holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended,
That man to judge Thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by Thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.
Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
’Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
I crucified Thee.
And from Latin Robert Bridges has given us the fourth century hymn by Ambrose of Milan, O Splendour of God’s Glory Bright.
O splendour of God’s glory bright,
O Thou that bringest light from light;
O Light of light, light’s living spring,
O day, all days illumining.
O Thou true Sun, on us Thy glance
Let fall in royal radiance;
The Spirit’s sanctifying beam
Upon our earthly senses stream.
(2) Today in 1862 – August Storm Born
August Ludvig Storm was a Salvation Army officer in Sweden. In 1891 he wrote a hymn of thanksgiving which is, to say the least, unusual. Unusual because it perceptively thanks the Lord for pains as well as pleasures. Most of us are ready and willing to thank the Lord for what we see as positive blessings. But it takes a deeper spiritual insight and faith to see our problems and burdens as something for which we can thank God as well.
The Apostle Paul provides an example of the latter. He reached the point where he realized that if God was glorified through his suffering, he could rejoice in that. Depending on the Lord in his times of weakness brought greater glory to God, and for that he was thankful.
A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Cor. 12:7-10)
Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!