Posted by: rcottrill | November 22, 2010

Today in 1840 – Daniel Whittle Born

Born in Massachusetts, Daniel Webster Whittle was named after the famed New England attorney, statesman and politician Daniel Webster (1782-1852). He served in the American Civil War, attaining the rank of major. During one battle, he was severely wounded, losing an arm, and he ended up in a prisoner of war camp. It was during that time that he put his faith in Christ, and his conversion was unusual, to say the least.

Because of his injury, Whittle spent a long time in the prison hospital. Having nothing to read while he convalesced, he took up a New Testament his mother had packed in his belongings. He read and read it, with growing interest. A short time later, an orderly awoke him, saying a dying prisoner wanted him to pray with him. Seeing him reading his Bible, the hospital orderly had assumed he was a Christian, which he was not. But he finally agreed to make his way to the boy’s beside. Major Whittle says:

I dropped on my knees and held the boy’s hand in mine. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God’s promises. When I arose from my knees, he was dead. A look of peace had come over his troubled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Saviour, used me to lead him to trust Christ’s precious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven.

Daniel Whittle went on to become an effective evangelist after the war, and he wrote many gospel songs. Quite a few of these are still found in hymnals and gospel song books. (For more about Major Whittle and his songs, see Today in 1901.) Meanwhile, here are a few of them:

Beloved, Now Are We the Sons of God
Christ Liveth in Me
Have You Any Room for Jesus?
(adapted from an anonymous poem)
I Know Whom I Have Believed
Moment by Moment
The Banner of the Cross
The Crowning Day Is Coming
There Shall Be Showers of Blessing
Why Not Now?

The song I Know Whom I Have Believed is based on the testimony of the Apostle Paul: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (II Tim. 1:12). It is a reminder that there are lots of things we do not know–at least, not yet. But what we can know for certain, based on the sure promises of God, is that Christ has the power to save and keep those who come to Him.

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

(2) Today in 1900 – Arthur Sullivan Died
Arthur Seymour Sullivan was best known in his day for writing popular operettas with William Gilbert (such as H.M.S. Pinafore). But he wrote a wide variety of other music as well, including many hymn tunes. After he was knighted by Queen Victoria, some criticized him for “lowering” himself to write comic operas, but others praised the genius that enabled him to compose music in so many styles, and do it so well. (For more about Sir Arthur and his work, see the second item under Today in 1839.)

The most familiar of his hymn tunes, St. Gertrude, is used with Onward Christian Soldiers. The tune, written in 1871, was named in honour of a friend, Mrs. Gertrude Clay-Ker-Seymer. He often visited the family at their home in Dorsetshire, and wrote the melody there.

Sir Arthur Sullivan died of heart failure at his flat in London. A monument to his memory is inscribed with words from The Yeoman of the Guard, one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas: “Is life a boon [a blessing]? If so, it must befall that Death, whene’er he call, must call too soon.”


  1. […] The call to action in a national conflict certainly has its analogy to the spiritual conflict in which we find ourselves (cf. Eph. 6:10-18). It may be fitting, given this theme, that today’s date is the only one that is also a command. On the anniversary of Major Whittle’s death, the Lord calls upon Christians everywhere to “March forth!” and join in the battle as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 2:3). For the most unusual story of Mr. Whittle’s conversion, see Today in 1840. […]

  2. […] (2) Today in 1842 – Arthur Sullivan Born Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan is known to most of the world as the partner of William Gilbert, the team that produced a series of immensely popular comic operettas, such as H.M.S. Pinafore, and The Mikado. Sullivan had a sense of humour, but he also had a serious side. He is recognized today as one of the greatest church musicians of the Victorian era. (For a bit more about the man, see the second item under Today in 1840.) […]

  3. […] Wordwise Hymns (Daniel Whittle born, died) The Cyber […]

  4. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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