Posted by: rcottrill | November 9, 2010

Today in 1882 – Julia Cory Born

Julia Bulkley Cady Cory, the daughter of an architect, attended the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. She was involved in her church, and in various community activities. One day, the organist at the church asked if she’d write a new text for the tune Kremser (to which we sing the thanksgiving hymn We Gather Together). Mrs. Cory says, “I struggled along for two weeks, and finally produced what we have today.” The hymn was written in 1902, and it was sung at American Thanksgiving services that year. Julia Cory’s song says in part:

We praise Thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator,
In grateful devotion our tribute we bring;
We lay it before Thee, we kneel and adore Thee,
We bless Thy holy name, glad praises we sing.

We worship Thee, God of our fathers, we bless Thee;
Through life’s storm and tempest our guide hast Thou been;
When perils overtake us, escape Thou wilt make us,
And with Thy help, O Lord, our battles we win.

In December, the Julia Cory’s father asked if they could use the hymn at the Christmas service in his own church. For that occasion, she added another stanza–which to my mind is not quite up to the poetic quality of her earlier work. Even so, what better occasion for thanksgiving that the celebration of Christmas, and the birth of our Saviour? The stanza says:

Thy love Thou didst show us, Thine only Son sending,
Who came as a Babe and whose bed was a stall,
His blest life He gave us and then died to save us;
We praise Thee, O Lord, for Thy gift to us all.

(2) Today in 1938 – Organized Nazi Persecution of Jews Began
TGraphic Holocausthe Bible makes it abundantly clear that the Jews and their God-given land have a special place in His heart (Gen. 17:7-8; Deut. 7:6). And through them God has blessed us all. “To them were committed the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2). And it is through them that Christ came (Rom. 9:5). It is also with the nation of Israel that our heritage of sacred song began, since the book of Psalms was not only the hymn book of Israel, but of the early church as well (cf. Col. 3:16).

In the very beginning, when God made a covenant with Abraham regarding the nation that was to come from him, the Lord pledged, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you” (Gen. 12:3). God says to the nation, “I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries” (Exod. 23:22). Thus any individual or group that persecutes the Jews will suffer for it. But that is what happened on Kristallnacht (the Night of Glass).

The Nazi campaign of terror against the Jews began in earnest with this event. It was organized by the S.S. as a supposedly spontaneous demonstration against the assassination of a German diplomat by a Jewish man two days before. But that was simply an excuse for activating planned antisemitic policies. All over Germany and Austria, the Hitler Youth, Gestapo, S.S. and S.A. launched an attack against the Jews and their property. Some 99 Jews were murdered, and around 25,000 were arrested and placed in concentration camps, 267 synagogues were destroyed, 7,500 shops were wrecked, and thousands of homes were ransacked.

Kristallnacht (so-called because of the thousands of windows that were broken) was followed by further economic and political persecution, and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of Hitler’s “Final Solution,” outlined in the Wannsee Protocol, and leading to the horrific genocide of millions of Jews in the Holocaust. They should have read their Bibles more closely! “He who touches you [Israel] touches the apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8).

(3) More from John Peterson
John Willard Peterson was a prolific hymn writer. He deserves another spot in this blog besides any dated items, just to mention a few more of his songs. (To read more about the man and his songs, see the third item under Today in 1908.)

Published sixty years ago, Peterson’s Springs of Living Water celebrates the revitalizing work of God in the soul. It echoes the words of Christ to the woman of Samaria, that He could give her “living water, and she would “never thirst” (Jn. 4:10, 14). The sprightly tune does not fit the opening line about “thirsting in the barren land of sin and shame.” But it works after that.

I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,
And nothing satisfying there I found;
But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,
Where springs of living water did abound.

Drinking at the springs of living water,
Happy now and I, my sould they satisfy;
Drinking at the springs of living water,
O wonderful and bountiful supply.

Surely goodness and Mercy came about as a collaboration between Mr. Peterson and gospel musician Alfred Smith. Smith had received a letter from one of the descendants of hymn writer Philip Bliss.

As a boy, little Philip attended a one-room country school house, and he came to idolize his young teacher, Miss Murphy. The class was told to memorize Psalm 23. However, Philip Bliss could not yet read, and he learned it by rote. When his turn came to recite the psalm, he concluded it with a line that, to him, sounded perfectly logical: “Surely good Miss Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life”! The two men chuckled at the incident, but further conversation led them to create a hymn that day.

A pilgrim was I, and a-wand’ring,
In the cold night of sin I did roam,
When Jesus the kind Shepherd found me,
And no I am on my way home.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life;
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life.

Finally, there is a wonderful Peterson song about viewing the journey of life from the perspective of heaven. It says:

Some day life’s journey will be o’er,
And I shall reach that distant shore;
I’ll sing while ent’ring heaven’s door,
“Jesus led me all the way.”

Jesus led me all the way,
Led me step by step each day;
I will tell the saints and angels
As I lay my burdens down,
“Jesus led me all the way.”

If God should let me there review
The winding paths of earth I knew,
It would be proven clear and true–
“Jesus led me all the way.”


  1. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber Hymnal (John […]


%d bloggers like this: