Posted by: rcottrill | October 30, 2010

Today in 1807 – Christopher Wordsworth Born

Christopher Wordsworth was the nephew of famed English poet William Wordsworth. He was both a fine student and an athlete in his school days. He became headmaster of Harrow Boys School, which Winston Churchill would attend many years later. He later was appointed a bishop in the Church of England. A recognized Greek scholar, he wrote a number of theological works, as well as many hymns. Wordsworth said, “It is the first duty of a hymn to teach sound doctrine and thence to save souls.” (A statement worth pondering, given the shallow nature of some of our songs of worship and testimony!)

Christopher Wordsworth has given us a good hymn in praise of the Lord’s Day. Several songs in our hymnals confuse the Jewish Sabbath with the Lord’s Day, but this hymn does not fall into that trap. His hymn celebrates Sunday, the first day of creation, and the day of Christ’s resurrection.

O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright:
On Thee, the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
Sing holy, holy, holy, to the great God Triune.

On Thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth;
On Thee, for our salvation, Christ rose from depths of earth;
On Thee, our Lord, victorious, the Spirit sent from heaven,
And thus on Thee, most glorious, a triple light was given.

(2) Today in 1934 – Andrew Skoog Died
Skoog called himself Andrew L. Skoog, adopting a middle initial, though he had no middle name! His family came to America in 1869. In his adult years Andrew Skoog became the director of music in a Chicago church, and taught in a parochial school. For several years he served on the City Council of Minneapolis, and edited a Swedish language paper, as well as several hymnals. Mr. Skoog wrote over 300 hymns himself, but his name comes into our English hymnody more as a translator. (All of this with only a sixth grade education!) He gave us the English version of Lina Sandell’s lovely song, Day by Day.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.


Responses

  1. 1. With Wordsworth’s hymn, second verse: I have never before realized the significance of the Lord’s Day in relation to each Person of the Trinity. And with all I’ve heard and read about the Sabbath and the 4th Commandment, this point has never been mentioned.

    2. With his 6th-grade education, Andrew Skoog’s poetry composition skills are far superior to the skills of today’s “hymn” writers.

    3. I am writing this on the 31st. Happy Reformation Day! May Luther’s greatest hymn by sung by all this morning — all 4 verses, of course. For those who have never memorized a hymn, here is a good place to start.

    • Thanks for your comments. I quite agree with your second point. In so many cases, not only has any pattern of rhyming been abandoned, the words do not fit the metre of the tune, and must be scrunched in here and there to fit.

      And Wordsworth’s stanza about the triple significance of the Lord’s Day is beautiful. However, I part company with those who believe the Jewish Sabbath has somehow been moved from Saturday to Sunday. The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day are quite different days, distinct in origin and purpose. (Readers can check out my article on the “Sunday Sabbath” to see my reasons for this conviction.)

      On your latter point, I don’t think “A Mighty Fortress” is in our Order of Service for today. We do sing it quite often however, and it is indeed a great hymn.

  2. AL Skoog is an ancestor of mine, my maternal grandmother’s cousin. Day By Day is our family’s unofficial family hymn. I think his words are wonderful. If you have any more information on him, i would appreciate hearing from you. (wamoline@yahoo.com).

    • Thanks for the interesting background. I’m assuming you have pictures of Mr. Skoog. If not, you can see a couple on the Cyber Hymnal, here. (Quite an impressive moustache!)

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns (Lina Sandell); translator Andrew Skoog The Cyber […]


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